Back on the Mountain Bike

I haven’t posted for a while so my apologies.  I’m now at 43 weeks and life seems 95% normal.  The other 5% is the mental scar of not wanting to re-rupture which still remains in the back of my mind.  To recap I opted for the non-operative method of recovery.  Conservative no, as I was quite aggressive in the AirCast boot in terms of discarding the crutches after a couple of weeks and walking round in the boot.  Sometimes this was for a few miles walking the dogs.  In my view, it didn’t really hurt walking therefore couldn’t be doing any damage.

Yesterday I arrived back from 3 days mountain bike riding in Devon.  I was really apprehensive before I went as although I had ridden my road bike for miles these past 2 months, riding up and down hills applies different pressures to the Achilles. Day 1 was 22 miles and 8 hours in the saddle, day 2 was 20 miles and 7 hours riding and the final day of 5 hours involved 16 miles.  The last day included an over the handle bars fall, complete with superman dive, and ended up with my feet in a stream  I think you get the picture; thousands of feet of uphill covered and lots of punishing ‘granny’ ring pedaling up steep inclines.  At the end of it all, sore thighs, stiff back, and a jarred neck, but not a peep out of my calf or achilles.  Yippeee!

The 3 day adventure has started to dilute the mental side of the recovery.  No surgery doesn’t necessarily mean a weak achilles repair, well not in my mind after my bike trip.  I honestly didn’t think I’d get on a road bike again never mind my mountain bike in less than 12 months from my ATR.  I went through those same days/months of despair that everyone goes through.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel.  I can only offer advice on my own experience of recovery.  My main points would be;

  • Think carefully about surgery/non-surgery.  I haven’t gone through half the problems I read on this BLOG from other ATR sufferers especially those choosing surgery.  If it’s an option for you then have faith non-surgery does work.
  • Be aggressive as early as possible in the Aircast boot  It helps the recovery process.  Walk everywhere in the boot and once comfortable discard the crutches.
  • Once in 2 shoes get on the static bike even with little/no resistance.  Every bit helps towards the end goal.
  • Keep doing those heel raises (I didn’t do enough - lazy!!)
  • Get to the gym and do sessions such as ‘Body Pump’ - I did even with the Boot on.  Looks daft but fine to build core strength - don’t overdo it though.
  • Use a road bike - make sure you don’t damage the leg when dismounting.
  • Gentle jogging is fine - I started at about 28 weeks.
  • Above all remember the key word - Patience.

I hope this post cheers up those in the same predicament.  I am still amazed how the body heals itself. I didn’t think I would be in this position all those weeks ago. Not out of the woods yet but definitely on the way.  Happy days


3 Responses to “Back on the Mountain Bike”

  1. Congratulations! I did my first race yesterday. I understand exactly what you are saying. I did have surgery but I have been aggressive with rehab and continuing to workout. I also have not done enough heel raises though. I need to.

  2. Nice! Hard to know how aggressive to be with heel raises and stretches. Too little can cost you a bit of time, and too much can cost you a lot, or worse. And you can’t trust your leg to warn you soon enough when you’re overdoing, either, trust me!

    It’s not a tightrope, because that’s symmetrical. It’s more like aiming for the out-of-bounds line in a court game.

    +1 to your “Think carefully about surgery/non-surgery.” For sure, a blog site like this selects non-randomly for people with complications — i.e., there are many surgical patients who recover with no problems, but they tend to forget about posting on more than those with problems. But there are definitely a bunch of big and small problems that come from surgery, incisions, scars, attachments, etc., that don’t afflict the non-op crowd. And non-op plus an aggressive rehab protocol is a great combo, according to the best evidence..

    My only quibble would be that you’re recommending WB faster than any of the modern non-op rehab protocols has used — and therefore faster than has been demonstrated to work well with a large number of patients. I’d rather stick to a fast modern protocol like , that’s been shown to work well in lots more than one patient.

    Your even faster schedule may eventually be shown to be even better — or it may be shown to have an unacceptably high rerupture rate. Nobody knows until a big carefully randomized study is done. I’d go with the odds for now, despite your excellent results.

  3. Good to hear from you. I’m doing the heal raises & more, but still at week 14 a bit away from jogging. It’s going. Still a problem but much less the mental burden it was just say 6 weeks ago.

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