February 15, 2016 - 9 Month Progress

February 15, 2016

So it is mid-February and I ruptured on May 10, had surgery on May 20, 2015, that puts me 40 weeks and one day post injury, and 38 weeks and 5 days post surgery. I just round it off to 9 months.

My last update was around Thanksgiving, when I did a turkey trot at a fast walking pace. I have made very steady progress since then. I work out on a treadmill 5-7 days a week. My main focus has been on progressing from a “walk” (one foot down at all times) to a jog (periods with both feet off the ground). During December we were out in California for a couple of weeks and I took advantage of the nice weather to take daily 4 mile walks in my Skecher’s Shape-up Comfort Walker shoes. Back here in Northern Virginia, I have been hitting the gym daily. My basic workout has been 40 minutes on the treadmill - the first 10 at a fast walk - 3.5 mph - then the second ten minutes also at 3.5 but increasing to a 10 percent grade by adding one percent per minute - the third ten minutes lowering from 10 percent to zero grade, then the last ten minutes at my fast walk 3.5 mph. In mid-January I had to go for a treadmill stress test ordered by my cardiologist and I did fine, all the way through the fourth stage, which is 4.2 mph at a 17 percent grade!

In the past week I have incorporated jogging into my workouts. My jogging speed is 4.2 mph, a very light jog, but a jog. Today I did 10 minutes fast walk (3.5) then 15 minutes jog (4.2) and the last 5 minutes at 3.5. I hope to get up to 20-30 minutes of jogging within the next week or two, and to then get out on the road and properly jog a 5K in the early spring. My jogging is sure to help my Achilles heal (hey - double entendre!) as the jogging action adds a plyometric push-off aspect to the motion.

In addition to the walking and jogging, I have continued with the strength and balance exercises I learned in physical therapy. About 3-4 times a week I do 100 heel raises of different types. I can just barely do a one legged heel raise on the healing leg - I am a little disappointed because it is so easy to do on my good leg, but I am trying to remain patient. I also do toe presses on a leg press machine, and I walk on my toes using a Theraband for resistance. I also use an “Indo-Board” for eccentric strength and balance training, and do one legged floor toe touches.

My walking is absolutely fine - I am a little sore sometimes but I have completely lost any trace of a limp. I force myself to use a full range of motion when I go up and down stairs, and I work through morning stiffness when I wake up.

I am not taking any type of medicine since I don’t have any pain. I am very careful about my footwear now. I wear Skechers Shape-ups as much as I can. For gym shoes I am wearing Asics Gel-Kayano 22’s with the insole removed and replaced with blue ‘Superfeet” orthotics. I have a pair of low Gore-tex Under Armour boots for bad weather and I have a gray merino wool Superfeet orthotic in them. I am also back in my favorite daily shoes, a pair of low cut Vibram-soled Timberland shoes, and I got low profile carbon fiber Superfeet liners for them. My dress shoes are Allen Edmonds Park Avenue shoes - I don’t have to wear them every day, and I can’t get even the lowest profile black Superfeet into them, but I do okay when wearing them.

My scar has healed very well - I continue to use Bio-Oil once or twice a day, and a couple of days a week I use a silicon sheet over the scar.

So I am hoping that the last three months of my healing - taking me up to my one year anniversary on May 10 - will continue to go smoothly and I will continue to progress. My goals in the next three months are to be able to run a 5K in 45 minutes or less, and to be able to do one legged calf raises evenly on both legs.

Best of luck to everyone in your healing.


October 7, 2015 - 20 Weeks Post-Op

October 7, 2015

Hard to believe it but I got out the calendar (as I do every Wednesday) and ticked off the number of weeks since my surgery on Wednesday, May 20, and today marks 20 weeks!  At this point, I really don’t remember that I ruptured my Achilles unless I think about it. My gait is completely normal, but I feel a very slight “hitch” in my right ankle when walking in flat shoes. I am wearing either well-supported shoes with “Superfeet” arch supports or specialty shoes like Skechers Shape-Ups on a daily basis.

What I CAN do: I can walk normally up and down stairs, as I have a full range of motion.  I am unlimited in terms of cardio work on a bicycle, elliptical trainer, or Stairmaster. 3-4 times a week I do specific strength and balance exercises in the gym, these include leg presses focused on eccentric strength, stability pad work, one-legged yoga poses on my “bad” leg, two legged calf raises, and plyometric hopping exercises. On the treadmill I walk at a 5km per hour (3.1 mph) pace for 30-60 minutes.  I have absolutely no fear of rerupturing at this point and I work hard to put stress on my calf muscles as I seek to rebuild them.

What I cannot do is run - and I define running as leaving both feet at the same time in a forward motion.  I feel like I could if I wanted to, but I am waiting at least another month while I continue to strengthen myself.  I feel like I could probably do a one legged calf raise on my “bad” leg, but I am going to wait on that as well - in the mean time, I do about 100 2-legged calf raises a day and focus more and more of my weight on the “bad” foot.  My biggest issue is eccentric strength.  For example, when walking down stairs, I put the ball of my ATR foot down first and it is still very hard to prevent the heel from just plonking down - I just don’t have that eccentric strength (strength as the calf muscles lengthen) yet, but I recognize it and I am working on it every day.

The scar looks okay - I rub Bio-Oil on it a couple of times a day. It is small and even, the surgeon did a great job on it.  I have lost 15 pounds of the 20 that I gained since the injury, and I am going to try to keep the momentum up and lose a little more.

That’s it!  Very pleased with going the surgical route, with my early weight-bearing protocol and with getting in to physical therapy early (3-weeks post-op.)  I am going to “walk” a couple of 5K’s this Fall - whereas my pre-injury 5K time was around half an hour, I just want to do the distance in an hour (I have been doing this on my own, but It will be fun to join an organized 5K event.)

Best of luck to you all in your continued recoveries.


August 5 2015 - Eleven Weeks Post-op

August 5, 2015

Well the time really does pass quickly.  We returned on Monday from 2 weeks of vacation out West, and today marks 11 weeks to the day since my ATR surgery.

While we were gone I did not go to PT, but I did go to the gym each day the first week and I progressed through most of my PT exercises.  I did standing balance on each leg, leg raises in four planes of motion, massage and Theraband resistance with the assistance of my wife, toe presses on a leg press machine, and eccentric strengthening on a leg press machine - pressing down with both toes and then back to neutral under resistance with just my repaired leg.  Also, I did at least 3 sets of 10 of two footed calf raises every day.

Most all of my activities were fine.  I wore mid-height hiking boots with a heel lift for extra support.  My gait is pretty normal but I walk pretty slow, some steps feel perfectly fine, others make my repair site feel like someone is squeezing it with pliers.  Range of motion is the same in both ankles, which is great.  The biggest problem I have had is with walking down stairs, but we are starting to work on that specifically in PT.

I went back to PT on Tuesday morning, the morning after my flight home.  I was excited to show my therapist how strong I had gotten and how I could do two legged calf raises with ease.  That was a mistake - never gloat to your physical therapist.  He proceeded to kick my butt for an hour, even having me walk around on my tiptoes with resistance bands, which really hurt a lot.  It helped to have him work with me on my stepping and I think before long I will be fine walking down stairs much better.

I continue to drive with absolutely no problem.  I got another set of boots - side zip lightweight mid-height black boots from Under Armour, they work great!  I added a 1 cm heel lift to my right boot. They are “Men’s UA Valsetz RTS Side-Zip Tactical Boots.” Extremely comfortable, lightweight, and supportive.

Men's UA Valsetz RTS Side-Zip Tactical Boots

My scar is healed and gives me very little trouble.  Around the house I still don’t go barefoot, I use light shoes with a heel lift to remove some of the stress from my Achilles.  I took walks up to about a mile on vacation and plan to continue walking as much as I can.   Being out of the boot, I feel my strength and muscle tone returning.  The hardest thing for me now is my balance, it is taking a while to come back.  I bought a stability pad to help me work on my balance at home, and will be doing some one-legged exercises in my spare time too.

Next appointment with the OS is next week - looking forward to that.  Will concentrate on improving strength and balance before my next OS visit.