Something comfortable for your feet

A side view of the trainer
The modified trainer - built for comfort NOT for speed!

Those of you lucky enough to not have a foot ring as part of a tibial Ilizarov frame can skip this bit. Those of you have those pins through the foot, read on. This may help in the comfort stakes.

If, like me, you sport a foot ring, you've probably found it impossible to get something comfortable to wear that will;

  1. Be comfortable enough to allow you to start weight bearing.
  2. Give you any sense of security aginst stubbing or hitting your toes.
  3. Have a safe gripping sole for those first hesitant steps.
  4. Help to keep your foot warm.
I found that the orthotic shoes provided by the hospital were just not designed to fit round the pins. Even after a lot of cutting and shaping they were uncomfortable, never felt secure and took ages to put on.

I experimented with a few designs until I came up with that shown opposite. It's simple enough and provided you don't want a designer name, needn't cost too much.

Firstly the trainers need to have velcro fastening straps and not laces. Laces are impossibly fiddly. Secondly they need to be one or two sizes larger than you would normally wear. This means that, where the front upper is cut away, the sole will extend some 1 to 1.5 inches infront of your toes. This offers a good degree of protection against unintended impact with walls, doors, dogs etc!.

Next step is to make a paper template of your foot. You'll probably need someone's assistance with this. Place your foot on the paper and trace round the outline, marking clearly each pin. This will enable you to work out which parts of the trainer need to be cut away to allow it to be slipped onto your foot, over and around the pins. (See the next lower picture. The red lines indicate the positions of the pins through my foot, marked by using the template)

The whole of the front upper of the trainer is cut away, including the tongue. This latter piece is worth retaining. The other parts of the trainer are then cut away where your pins were marked on the template. Try to keep edges as smooth as possible and cut away as little as possible on the first cut. You can always remove more later if need be.

Then try the thing on. If you're lucky it'll fit right away. Mine didn't!. Just trim where required. In my case the shoe is put on by offering it up to my foot, positioning the remaining pieces of upper, over the pins through the front of the foot and then slipping the heel on after. The tongue, which I suggested keeping can then just be laid on your foot, the straps pulled through the eyelets, laid across the tongue, pulled tight and pressed to hold. The tongue gives a bit of cushioning and stops the straps rubbing. It also provides a bit of insulation against the weather.

You could probably keep the toe covering area of the upper by a careful use of cutting and shaping but, as I always wear my physiotherapy rubber straps during the day, to stop claw toe, I didn't bother.

Side view with tongue
Trainer and tongue with straps open
Trainer and tongue with straps closed
Trainer showing the positions where my pins pass through my foot.
The trainer on my foot. The final two pictures show the trainer actually on my foot. This, I hope gives a clearer view of both the way the trainer is modified and how well it fits round the pins and pin sites.

A final comment is just to point out that my physiotherapy straps have been taken off of the frame for the pictures. They are normally tied to the first of the steel rings and then looped around the toes to combat the claw toe mentioned earlier.

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The trainer on my foot, again