I’m at 27 weeks, just over the 6 month mark. When I ripped it the OS told me 6-12 months before you’re back at sports … He was right on the money. I’ve been really lucky because nothing has gone wrong during my recovery, so I’ve managed to hit 6 months able to participate in most of my prior activities.
Here’s a progress report on the items that feel relevant to me in terms of my achilles recovery:
Earlier I posted that I was trying to do the Graston Technique on myself to see how it went. The jury is now in … you cannot do this to yourself effectively. 4 weeks ago I started seeing an Osteopath who has specifically studied adhesion release. He does Active Release Technique and Graston on me. These are 30min sessions of which 20min of them I spend sweating and biting my knuckles - it is really really REALLY sore! He has no empathy, when I gasp (trying not to scream) he just chuckles! When he does the Graston it feels like he is carving up my ankle, I feel like I’m a prime roast! I expect to look and see blood. There is no way I could ever inflict so much pain on myself.
The good news and the reason I’ve actually been back 6 times in 4 weeks … it works. What used to be a massive very hard lump that felt like a large golf ball around the achilles at the join to the calf is now soft squishy normal feeling tissue. The whole area has thinned out a bit, it’s still thick, but it looks and feels more like an ankle should. We have also made headway with flexibility during each session. So everyone, if you have lots of scar tissue then I highly recommend Graston.
Week by week I’m managing to eke out small increases in my flexibility. This has definitely slowed down and is something I have to persevere at daily otherwise it starts to regress. I am unfortunately extremely flexible. My good ankle does a knee to wall measure of 18-19cm. At 6 months I’m getting my injured ankle to 14cm when I’m warm. That’s still only 78%, so although 14cm is more than most people get, it’s putting me off quite a bit in some of my movements and I find it very noticeable. The ankle feels really stuck and in back squats I’m compensating much more than I used to leaning over which is not good for my knees or my back.
It feels like something that I just have to work on daily and it will slowly improve. Part of the problem is extremely tight toes, so my physio has me using yogatoes to try stretch them out and I use them when I do stretching, balancing and squating at home. I also roll out the bottom of my foot and concentrate hard on rolling my ankle in, lengthening the toes and trying to flatten my arch to the floor when I stretch and squat.
This is a slow process just like flexibility, but I think that it’s going well. I can do the 180 eccentric lowers with 8kg in the backpack now. I’m doing the "burns" routine I posted about earlier but only 2xboth legs and 1xinjured leg per week so far. It BURNS!!!
My injured calf is 1cm smaller which currently equates to 97% - so it’s really almost there. It is actually 0.5cm bigger than what I measured the good side to be 9 weeks post ATR - poor thing can’t catch up because with all the calf exercises I’m doing my other calf just keeps expanding!
Diameter / size isn’t really a good measure because different parts of the calf muscles do different things. So my biggest deficit in strength is still at the very top section of a raise. The only way for me to measure this it to try take equal level photos of single straight leg raises on each foot and measure the height difference. The last time I did this I was getting 12cm on the injured side and 18cm on the good side. So that’s 67% difference. Not great but it’s getting there. I can do sets of 20+ single heel raises but the height deteriorates as I go. Endurance should be another section to my post, but there’s no way for me to measure that, so let me just say that the injured side’s endurance needs work!
The most terrifying of all the exercises I do!
I can now hop 30+ times in a row and I have been jumping onto my bosu ball which is about 9" high with a nice soft landing. I (stupidly?) entered the crossfit games open last week and when the first workout was announced I went into a cold sweat … 20 minutes of 25 foot lunges holding 65lbs (30kg) overhead (knee must touch the floor and feet must alternate), bar-facing burpees (that require you to jump over the bar with two feet and land on two feet) and chest to bar pull-ups. At first my fear was mostly for jumping over the bar, but then when I started warming up and lunged with my injured foot behind me carrying my weight + 30kg right through the toe and with the heel off the ground … I almost bailed! It felt really scary - I don’t want to go through this ATR again.
That’s the problem with this injury. I’m pretty sure I could be running full pace already, but I’m terrified … and I feel rightly so - who wants this to happen again just because you wanted to do some exercise? But living in fear is a bad thing! So … I went ahead with the workout and although that injured leg was weak and I struggled to stand up when it was at the back, I managed a total of 225 feet of those lunges and 32 of those jumps over the bar.
This has given me quite a lot of confidence which is good since I know that with 4 more workouts to come we are bound to get box jumps and/or skipping and I need to get comfortable with jumping a bit more. So yesterday I did some broad jumps along the pavement, and today I stacked some plates on the floor and did some (very scary) 15" jumps. The box is 20" … so I’ll build it up slowly but I think I’ll be doing box jumps by next week! Woohoo!
This is probably the easiest of the exercises at the moment. I’m sticking to a max time of 30min and I still jog-walk just to make sure I’m not overloading anything. We are going away mid-March and I plan to jog every day and start to keep them continuous (no walking) and then add a bit of pace.
My squats as measured for about 3-6 reps are at about 65-70% of what they were prior to injury. Front squat is the easiest. Back squat is actually the hardest. This is because of the flexibility issue - when the bar is in front the weight forces my foot down but when it’s behind my ankle is stiff and if I hold good form then I fall backwards. Overhead squats are mid-way between the two. To be honest I’m not pushing the weight with the squats yet, I just want to do them at a decent weight to build strength and improve flexibility.
That’s it for the 6 month summary. I’m hoping to keep moving forward with the strength and flexibility during this next month and to lose some of my plyometric fear!
Happy healing everyone!
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