Paraplegic Gear/Tools of the Month: Baby Calves

Reading time: 2 minutes

I’ve talked before on how important it is to stretch, not explicitly, but sprinkled throughout other posts, such as How to Reduce Muscle Spasms for Paraplegics

If you took my advice, you came to the same heuristic conclusion – it matters. Stretching matters.

After not stretching for a while, or doing it wrong for a while (it’s possible), my legs will be much more tense, harder to move especially in the morning, though it does build up my muscles and tone.

Every morning as part of my routine, I stretch. I read while I do it because I like to be efficient. If I want to stretch throughout the day, it’s not as convenient because I’d either have to get on my bed or down to a yoga mat and I typically have full days.

Here’s what I’ve got for you. I discovered this while I was in post-rehab. Once I got back to college after staying in Shirley Ryan Ability Center, I went to see a physical therapist for the next few months.

BraceAbility Sleeping Stretch Boot (you don’t have to sleep to use it)

This is good for stretching calves, in fact that’s all it’s good for.
But maybe you can get creative.

I use it in two ways – stretching in the morning and stretching throughout the day.

The great thing about this is that you can be in a wheelchair, put this on, and stretch your calves (one at a time unless you buy two).

or

In the morning when I stretch my hamstrings, I have one leg out and my other leg’s ankle is resting just above the knee. It keeps my leg straight when I lean forward to stretch, but then my toes will point like in ballet or gymnastics.

I can either grab my foot and pull it back – a calf stretch that gets a bit tiring, keeps me from flipping pages, and then my hand smells like foot – or I place my foot in this (without strapping it down) and that keeps my foot upright.

This could also be good for nighttime use, though it could bruise or create pressure sores, so be cautious on how you wear it into the night. Wear it for a few hours and see what your foot looks like after and then make an executive decision.


Immediate actionable items: The only one I have is to buy this if you want to effectively stretch your calves. In fact, just stretch. Right now.

Summary: A calf stretcher boot.

Overdeliver:  If you want to stretch even more or stand up, you can get Knee-Ankle-Foot-Orthopedics (KAFOs), which are leg braces (what I’m wearing in the picture). I use them to stretch and stand – usually while studying, writing, or reading. Just don’t fall.

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