Running With a Cast


Experience From - Larry Miller , Tyler Curiel , John Medinger , Curt Meadows , Jan Speed Turtle , Katie Fernan , Larry Miller#2 ,

Larry Miller

Well, I was getting pretty excited about my 1st 50 at Bull Run in a couple of weeks when I took a spill and fractured my scaphoid bone in the wrist. I was set in a cast today and it's a lot different trying to perform everyday tasks. It took me 10 minutes to get my key off the keyring! Anyway, the orthopedist tells me not to get it wet. I laughed and told him about running 50 miles in the heat, etc., etc. He said that the only 2 problems that I should face would be a horrible stench from the sweat and possibly sores on the skin via salt buildup and friction. Has anyone experienced running with a cast (it stops about 4-5 inches shy of my left elbow (non-dominant hand)? Suggestions on stench, skin care, and how to manage yourself with 11/2 arms when on the run would be appreciated. Either way, come hell or high water, I'm running the race with my big black cast!

Tyler Curiel

I've run with a cast like that as well (plaster, not fiberglass). You'll be surprised how much it slows you down. I think it has to do with how you swing your arms. It may hurt alot more than you expect also, but this can be controlled with Advil or Tylenol. Finally, watch the holes where your fingers and thumb come through. If your hand swells during the race, this area will hurt as well, and may get numb or rubbed raw. I recommend you:

  1. definitely run the race as long as you can stand it
  2. see if they can pad or trim your cast a day or two before the race to help prevent these problems (not sooner, as your hand and the cast will change over time)
  3. tell us how it goes.

John Medinger

Kirk Boisseree finished Leadville with his arm in a cast about 5 years ago. I ran the 1980 SF Marathon with a cast on my right arm in 3:07, only about 10 min. slower than my PR at the time. So, yes, it can be done.

If typical, you're going to have it on for about 6 weeks. Whether you run or not, it's going to start smelling pretty ripe. May as well start it sooner. I found that putting a little cologne in the cotton padding inside the thumb hole helped mask the smell. It still smells, but the combination of aromas somewhat confuses your olfactory sensors.

At Bull Run, RD Scott Mills has some unusual special awards, like heavyweight division (from both North and South). You might try to convince him to add a klutz division for folks who fall down and break their wrists.

Curt Meadows

Good luck with the cast! I had my thumb crushed in Jan. and had to have medal pins put in the thumb, the cast ran from tip of thumb to elbow. I kept on training keeping the arm in a sling. Biggest problem was after a run the skin under the cast was wet from sweat. A daily 6 mile run was not a terrible problem, but a 50 miler would not be a lot of fun. Good Luck!

Jan Speed Turtle

I only had one cast in my life - on my right hand up to my elbow. Wasn't running at the time, but I remember it itched so bad! I took one of those long knitting needles and worked it around inside to "scratch". I was wondering if you could somehow afix a piece of material (not sure cotton ball would stay together) to one of those needles and apply vaseline all down inside the cast. Might help with the sweating and irritation from running and sweating and getting dirt/dust, etc. in it. If it is raining pretty hard, you could wrap the cast in a plastice bag and (of course) seal with duct tape. The other concern will probably be the effect the added weight may have on your shoulders and upper back muscles for "carrying" the cast during a long run. Better have a good massage planned for the finish line! Good Luck.

Katie Fernan

I've never run with a cast, but what comes to mind is alcohol. Since your skin under the cast will be wet anyway, rinsing with alcohol could possible help dry it out, rinse any salt off, and get rid of the stench. The alcohol should evaporate quickly if you can get any air between your skin and the cast. The higher the alcohol content (I believe some drug store bottles of isopropyl alcohol contain 70% or 90% alcohol), the quicker it should dry. I'll tell you once again that I have no idea if this will work; it's only a theory, but I'd be interested in hearing how it goes if you try it.

Larry Miller #2

Thanks to those who shared their recommendations on how to care for and run with a cast. Based on experience with the cast in the last week and on several emails from you guys, here is what I will alter during the race to compensate for the cast:

  1. No baby powder inside the cast bc I fear it might get gummed up inside the cast and cause skin irritation
  2. Bring along a trash bag to wear over the cast in case of rain (right now, that's the prediction)
  3. Slow down or walk on any rocky, rooty, or steep downhill sections, especially if it's wet. I don't need another broken wrist.
  4. Don't try to scratch inside the cast at all as scratching just once usually causes the urge to scratch for the next hour.
  5. Wear deep pockets in my shorts. At the aid stations, I'll fill up my bottle with fluid, but just pocket most of my food. I'd rather fiddle through my shorts for food on the trail than try to grab a bunch of stuff with one hand at the aid station. I don't want to waste any more time than I have to, I'm actually looking to run a descent time, although any finish is my main goal.
  6. To prevent swelling, I will ingest adequate fluid and sodium and take mild dosages of ibuprofen, if necessary.
  7. Wear lace locks. Although I usually double or triple tie my laces, I they did happen to come undone, I'd be screwed. It takes me about 3-4 minutes to tie my shoes right now, and that's when I'm coherent. I'd hate to see it on the trail!
It would be 10 times easier if I could strap my Fast Draw bottle to my cast somehow and have my right hand free, but I'm still working on that one. Either way, thanks for the input everyone. See you at Bull Run!