33wks Recovery - Return to the Scene of the Crime

Yesterday on the day of wk33 since the ATR I returned to the courts and played my first games of badminton since that fateful evening of 28th May 2012.

I have to say, the nerves nearly got he better of me, I definitely did not rush to get changed and pack my gym bag, thoughts awry in my mind of ‘what if’s’ for the first time in 3months I really wanted a cigarette (having given up for 9months the cravings stopped a 6) instead I just do the (now regular and usual) warm-up/stretching and make my way out the door, to the car.

So I turned up at the courts, again no rush to get in, heart’s racing a bit now and my hands are shaking slightly at the at the thoughts - having told the lads last week that I was making this comeback today turned out to be a smart move, I did not, no, I WOULD NOT turn around!! If only to avoid the ‘ribbing’ the lads would of given me for bottling it…..I push onwards.

I get to the doors of the courts, deep breath, composure, another deep breath, one more deep breath and I pull the doors open…definitely no turning back now.

I can feel the expression of my face, I know I am showing the fear, the lads on our court and the old boys on the court next to us all come over to welcome me back - what a great bunch of people they are, I find a smile to express my thanks in the warm welcome and set-up the nets “Maybe I’ll just warm-up tonight and then let them carry on and play?” was the overriding thoughts in my mind.

The nets are up, I grab my raquet bag and take ‘old faithful’ out the bag, suddenly the raquets gained 10lbs, it feels heavy “I must be mad to be here” I thought, still I take the lunge and onto the court I go.

Stationary I hit a few returns, doesn’t feel too bad - missed a few returns, timings off (a lot), gently I bounce a bit, I shot goes over my head, I miss it - another goes over my head, I take the step backwards…..yes I hit, then it goes short, instinctlively I am making that ‘exlosive’ movement to get there and return it once more….I am too slow the shuttle hits the ground… the lads laugh of course, such is there way and of course that makes me feel more at ease.

But what just happened was a major milestone - I’d made it to the courts, I’d got out onto the courts and I’d completed the very series of movements that created the ATR without incident!!!

I ended up “playing” 4 games in total that night - Heavier than before, certainly lacking in agility, confidence, speed and intelligence, it’s safe to say I played badly, but I played!!

So did it feel great to get back? I was too nervous throughout to say yes, it was certainly something I wanted to do and I intend to carry on now. Playing form is aweful, it’s very noticeable to me how much more work needs to be done to get that spring in the ankle once more, but badminton was a really good workout for those muscles to get back that memory.

So even more overweight than before, lacking in agility, confidence and intelligence (probably thinking more about myself than the game) I still want to play, I still want to win (although achieving a win was 50/50 at best before the ATR :) ) and I can now visualise the areas of physio I need to focus on…..it’s not something that’s going to happen overnight or by itself, but I will keep working on it and it will happen….personal target is 8weeks to get match fit :)

My Ortho said he’d get me back playing at 6 months, it was actually 7.5months, so a little late (my fault not his though), but we got there and I feel good (my back, legs and buns ache a lot) I feel really good, today is up there with the best days I have had since the accident.

Happy healing all, recovery is just a matter of time, patience and commitment - time to let the tendon heal, patience during those first 16 “danger of re-rupture” weeks and commitment to do all your physio within your own bodies limits.

15 Comments so far

  1. alton2012uk on January 15th, 2013

    Andrew, well done, great to hear your back on the court. I am also a UK badminton victim going non-op route and dealing with the challenges of an NHS hospital that has a slow rehab. I am at just 8 weeks post ATR. I have a long way to go, but like you determined to get back on the court once achilles is safe and ready.

  2. andrew1971 on January 15th, 2013

    Badminton achilles injuries, although still rare, appear to be more common than other sports here in the UK (at least judging from people whom have found this site from the UK, so no real science behind it) - I wonder what the common factors might be?

    Myself - I am office fodder sat in a chair/car during the day and was hardly ‘active’ before the event, playing badminton just once a week was my exercise regime…. my totally unscientific feeling was, that lack of regular exercise and reduced time standing up/walking was a major contributor - I may never know the answers, but the injury has got me exercising in one shape or form every day for at least 30mins now….I’d prefer not to be a double ATR in future.

  3. kkirk on January 15th, 2013

    Glad to hear of your safe return Andrew. I’m counting the days before I can get back out hiking and backpacking again. Although, after working on those ankle exercises yesterday, I have a long way to go. Kudos on getting back to what you love!

  4. hillie on January 15th, 2013

    Hi Andrew

    Good to see you back here. I didn’t post for a while either but it is easy to get drawn back into it, especially when there is so much bad info being provided out there, and much good stuff being done too, and the unexpectedly difficult nature of the injury.

    Most of the improvement now for me at 46 weeks is down to stamina and building that up to hopefully better than pre-atr - I’m about there now but must keep it up.

    Looks like you’re doing ok - keep it up.

  5. normofthenorth on January 15th, 2013

    Andrew, congrats on your return to “battle”! There are MANY great reasons to exercise regularly and be/stay fit and active, but I’m not sure that avoiding an ATR is one of the reliable (or even statistical) benefits, sorry! (But if the fear of another ATR motivates you, KEEP it! Just don’t be crushed if you do end up rupturing the other one; stuff happens.)

    Badminton is a “perfect” sport to rupture an AT. Not back-yard badminton or popular North-American image badminton, but real, competitive badminton. The floor and the footwear give you near-perfect “squeaky” traction, and the sport is dominated by deception, short fast lunges, and the need to change direction instantly and forecefully. During many “moves” — like back-pedaling fast, then realizing you have to stop or run forward — the force applied to the AT is about as high as it can possibly get without jumping off a tall building or doing something else that’s obviously crazy. If it’s going to rupture, that’s a “good” time.

    It’s not easy being an AT. In a way, it’s remarkable that so many of them survive so long with the use and abuse they get. (Just look around the badminton courts!)

  6. andrew1971 on January 15th, 2013

    Thanks peeps for the comments, Norm I edited the repeats out :) - I get same problem occasionally, but the skin I use does not allow user editing.

    Aye like I said, my ‘theory’ is just based on my gut, there’s no science behind it whatsoever and total coincidence that 4 other casualties of Badminton were going through recovery at same time :)
    I’d like to know beside the obvious ‘it stretches because of the force that was applied and then it snapped’ the reason for ATR. Why did that happen? Why did it snap now? Why? Why? Why? In my job, if you get answer to 5 why’s all pertaining to the same ‘header question’ then you can bottom out root cause - that’s the thing thats missing.

    I have the ‘enviable’ title of being the first one at that stadium - If it’s going to be the 2nd too, then I hope it’s not til next year, I really need to gain some traction on this job.

    Norm you are right the ATR (in my mind) gave me a clean slate and a good opportunity to get better at looking after myself in future - I am certainly pushing ahead with that as motivation, but under no illusions that it may well happen again and if that is the case, it’s inevitable - I can’t influence that outcome ergo, it’s not something I worry about :)
    Happy heals to all :)

  7. eva10 on January 16th, 2013

    Great to hear from you Andrew! I bet it was an amazing feeling being able to get out on the court and conquer the past demons! Keep it up!

  8. normofthenorth on January 18th, 2013

    Andrew, when you click on either “Manage” or “Dashboard”, and then “Settings”, don’t you see an item like “Ajax Editing”? If it’s there, click on it and you’ll be able to enable us all to edit our posts, say for 15 minutes after we click “Submit”.

    There used to be a logical-sounding answer to some of the WHYs about ATR, but I think it’s recently been undermined by more data. Bad blood flow, “watershed” between two different arterial regions, some people have a bigger “watershed” than others, . . . I think a recent study suggested that the point of most stagnant blood flow (the “watershed”) is not even very close to the place where most ATRs happen. . .

    If you’re fussy about getting the answer to the WHYs, I think medicine is a good field to avoid. If doctors and medical researchers can solve the HOW and WHEN puzzles — and WHAT, like WHAT will lower the probability of X happening — they’re heroes.

  9. normofthenorth on January 18th, 2013

    The repeats happen on this page (and maybe this style) because a reply stays put when you hit “Submit Comment”, so it’s tempting to hit it again. Mostly , it seems to have been submitted properly. If you hit Ctrl-A and Ctrl-C and F5 (mark and copy and refresh), you see it properly entered. But not at first.

  10. californiaguy on January 19th, 2013


    I’m curious to know how long it took for your non-op side to re-shape itself. I’m at 27 weeks and it’s still pretty thick. It’s not swollen, but just like a “roll of quarters” as some people have described it. Does it ever go back to near pre-ATR shape?

  11. andrew1971 on January 19th, 2013

    Ajax editing now installed - had to dig around to find it, but thanks Norm, all done now - better late than never I guess :)

  12. normofthenorth on January 19th, 2013

    CG, I don’t have a clear answer. Partly it’s a long gradual process, partly I didn’t care much what it looked like as long as I was running and jumping and cycling and sailing and playing volleyball, etc., etc. And partly my “control” ankle — the one I compare it to — is also a post-ATR ankle, post-op from 8 years earlier! I was never bothered by big lumps or gaps during rehab, but I’ve never been a leg model, either.

    Sorry to be to spacey about this. I love being aware of everything, and sharing all my “data”, but I think my changing AT thickness largely washed over me unnoticed.

    The only objective measure I have is the way my footwear fit. I never bought bigger shoes, but I DID find that I needed a thinner ski sock on my left foot all week when I went to Whistler at 17 weeks post-non-op. So when did THAT return to normal?

    Good question!

    I’ve since switched to those thin ski socks on BOTH feet, and I like them! I’m not sure if I’ve ever skied with an old-style fat ski sock on my left foot, since ATR #2 — probably not! (I’m going back to Whistler soon, so I COULD try it, just as an experiment, though I love my new ski socks. . .)

  13. normofthenorth on January 19th, 2013

    Andrew, I still didn’t see the prompt to re-edit my post (with the 15-minute countdown). SOMETHING didn’t take. . .

  14. andrew1971 on January 20th, 2013

    I checked all the settings and it’s installed witha 15min timer activiated - I reset the security keys so maybe that fixed it?

    As for the deformation of the ATR post recovery, mine is too high up to make it really noticeable, although I now have a slight ’shoulder’ where it thickens slightly about 2cm above where the tendon connects to the heel, it’s high enough to not get in the way of footwear - as long as it works I am happy.

  15. pauls on January 23rd, 2013

    Great you are back at it!

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