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My swollen foot.

My swollen foot.

This is the actual picture of my foot. My first major climbing injury in 17 years of climbing was a good one. Fractured calcaneus (heel bone) on my right foot. Surgery was required and my foot was swollen for months. Recovery for this injury is slow– like 18 months to 2 years slow.

Once the bone itself was healed (the normal 6 week rule apparently doesn’t apply to this injury because of the poor blood flow to the area), in about 12 weeks I still had many more weeks where my foot was still too sore to put much weight on it. I got back to the climbing gym as soon as I could and started climbing with one foot. It was great to be back but found it hard on the shoulders. Once I could finally start putting weight on my toes another problem came to light. How to get a swollen foot in a very tight climbing shoe.

Most climbers have several old pairs of climbing shoes thrown in a closet somewhere. Fortunately I happened to have a well worn but still usable pair. Since my injury was around the back of my foot, I needed to be able to loosen up that area, but still have it snug enough to stay on my foot. And, I knew my swelling would slowly decrease so I needed adjust the tension over time. The solution was surprisingly easy: a velcro enclosure around the back of the shoe. The shoe turned out to be a huge success and got me back climbing several months earlier than I could have otherwise.

My particular shoes were ideal because they had velcro closures. I sacrificed the left shoe by removing one of the velcro straps and the binding ring. Everything is held together with nylon zap straps. I was just going to use those to test my shoe concept and then take them to a shoemaker to properly stitch them but the zap straps held up for several months of use without fail. Bonus.

I will be getting the hardware taken out of my foot in the next month or so and will be pulling out this shoe again until the swelling comes down.