Review: Swimming with fiberglass cast and a broken wrist

I broke wrist arm 24 days before a swimcamp at Lanzarote. It was a group travel meaning this occasion will never happening again. I did everything possible to recover quickly enough and get the proper support for my wrist. My orthopedist approved if I healed good enough. I sadly failed but not because of swimming itself.

I first got an ordinary white plaster. That type is the firmest one but can also be applied in a “elastic” way which is good if the tissue swell. After 2,5 week I got a ordinary fiber glass cast. The “polster” – the fabric between the arm and the cast – is a synthetic fast drying type. The nasty part with this cast is that it is not elastic at all. Swelling means pain. “Shrinking” means no support.

The very first day with my plastic cast I did a test in the swim hall. I was overjoyed. I could move just as easily as before. The cast was not getting full and heavy of water. I chose not to put any power in my arm strokes – I just moved smoothe and easy. First swim was perfect. I was so happy!

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Next day´s swim was sadly after my first full day at work – I had done some really stupid things at my job. To save my arm and get some cardio I decided to mainly do leg kick.

It was hard to find a comfortable position for the broken wrist while holding the kick board. I held the board with right arm and put my injured left one on the wrist of the other one. Else I got an uncomfortable stress on the wrist. After a while I changed to leg kick on my back. This was the best position. It was a true joy getting cardio training finally.

After the swim I flushed out chlorine in the shower. I dried the cast partly with a hair dryer (drying it completely was impossible) and went out in the somehow cold Swedish spring. After about an hour I could feel how my left arm shrunk incredibly by the AC- effect the evaporating water from the cast created. I put a fleece jacket over it but I was still too cold. I went to bed about three hours after my swim still freezing and put the arm beneath the eider down to make it warm. This was really stupid!

04:00 I woke up with a swollen wrist and a terrible pain in the broken area. I guess it was because of the total workload that day, the warmth beneth the eider down and the angle of my arm caused this swelling. I also feared I had made my fracture to “disalign” by the stress from the initial kick-board exercise. I got really scared!

Next day I was in touch with the orthopedist who assured me nothing can happen with this kind of plaster and the way my fracture had healed. He told me to relax and wait. Nevertheless I had to take morphine that day but next day everything was as usual again. I was in agony all day.

My conclusion is that swimming with fiberglass cast is working:

  • If you live in a country with a pleasant climate – not too warm and not too cold. The cast is not elastic the way an ordinary plaster is. It hurts when the broken limp swell. It gives no support when the limb freeze.
  • If you can manage not to be competitive since you cannot push yourself as before
  • If you are content with simply enjoying the water, swimming and keep the rest of your body in motion

The following days the same swelling scenario happened without swimming at all. It is a reaction caused by too much motion. Then I decided to threw the towle and stay home.

The reasons why:

  • I would have travelled first part of the journey on my own having no help with bags etc. It would be hard to manage that without implications like swelling.
  • If my arm would have swollen even worse while flying I would be in real trouble. The cast needs to be cut up if so
  • I feared the warm climate at Lanzarote would keep my arm constantly swollen (that is when the AC effect isn´t going on). It was 35 degrees when I decided to stay home.
  • On the other hand I would freeze constantly if the climate got “normal” because of the AC-effect (we would have swum at least twice a day) meaning the cast would have been too big giving no support
  • I would not have my own orthopedist available if something happens.
  • I did not want to feel that kind of agony I did last Friday. It would have ruined the whole journey.

I am at home watching the Facebook images my friends post and I am not happy. But the decision was right.

What is Fiberglass Cast?