9 months postop - playing tennis!

20 staples removed
It has been way too long since I’ve posted here and it was eye opening for me to go back and read my last post from 8 weeks postop back in late September. The goal of this post is to detail my rehab as I really couldn’t have imagined it going any better than it has, especially when I think back to some of the toughest times. I remember reading a few posts right after my surgery that sort of inspired me, so hopefully I can contribute something back to those of you early on in the process.

After my 8 week post, I went from the cast to a walking boot and began a religious rehab program. As soon as I was in the walking boot, I went to the pool almost every morning to walk around in the deep end and worked on pitifully weak calf raises. Slowly but surely, I could do a one legged calf raise in shallower and shallower water and then began physical therapy. I only saw my therapist about 15 times over a 6 month period, but he was very agressive and gave me a plan to heal. We did lots of calf raises, agility drills, jumping rope, pushing sleds, etc. Using his plan, I then went to the gym 4 nights a week to continue these exercies. Finally, in March, about 7 months postop I started playing tennis again. Not moving at all at first, just hitting the ball and taking a step or two very carefully. I slowly gained more and more confidence in my ability to run and started doing a 1 mile run on the treadmill after every workout. At first, it was a 12 minute mile, then 11, then 10, etc. By the end I was doing about a 6:30 mile which was about where I was before the surgery.

Last week I finally had the guts to enter a tennis tournament. This was my first year being eligible for the 40 and over category, and it was my goal right after surgery to play this tournament. My right calf is still a lot weaker than my left, and it actually started cramping in one of my matches. However, I was able to play through it and ended up winning the tournament. During the last game, I actually got pretty sentimental thinking about how far I’d come from scooting into the pool on my butt! So for all of you that are early on in your rehab, have faith that a full recovery is really possible, and it actually can happen sooner than you think! My son (holding the trophy) is elated that dad’s achilles is finally better!

12 Responses to “9 months postop - playing tennis!”

  1. Very impressive, in LOTS of ways:
    - 8 months is pretty quick to return to a high-risk explosive sport like competitive tennis!
    - Winning a tennis tournament is always impressive, and even more so when you’re still recovering! AND:
    - I think I’ve only run a mile ONCE. In 6:35, IIRC (from almost 50 years ago!), and I thought I was going to DIE! I did NOT throw up, but I sure thought I might. Better you than me!

  2. Thank you for coming back and posting this! You accomplished your goal of inspiring at least one person back at that 8wk mark. We just cleaned up our neighborhood pool this morning which has me so excited to walk over and begin doing that aquatherapy daily. Congrats on that big win!

  3. Cgroer, thanks so much for posting! I’m a fellow tennis player at the 8-week mark post-surgery who is still just dreaming about getting back on the court one day–the site of my ATR and my (former and, hopefully, future) recreational passion! Right now I’m focused on nearer-term goals like getting out of my boot and back into “2-shoes”, but you’ve given this person hope! -David

  4. Congrats! Very inspiring. I’m looking forward to really ramping up my PT soon. Still trying not to overdo it as my tendon aches when I do too much in a day.

    Definitely love the pool therapy and am getting back in today.

  5. That’s impressive!

    I teach tennis and golf for a living and will be 9 months next week, but I had a 3 month setback (2 large clots and an incision point that recently scabbed off a month ago). I also had 22 staples and a 6 inch scar (9 gap) That said, my PT was done at half flare until very recently.

    While I have started teaching golf, tennis will not start until next week., so I have been stepping up my PT, big time. Lacking strength and balance, though. I really don;t expect to be back close to 100% until the end of summer, unfortunately.

    Even when I hit my driver, it hurts a bit, and I still cannot hit a 1st serve or approach too fast (working on footwork, etc.)

    That said, great update and post. Nice pic, too.
    Thanks, and keep up the good work (but be careful).

  6. Ron - sorry to hear about your setbacks but sounds like you are back on track. The most difficult thing for me is moving forward quickly. A shanked return or something that lands short is a tough one for me to handle as I always hesitate slightly. Not because it hurts, but because it’s a mental block. I originally injured it running for a dropshot, pushing off with my right foot, and I am still not mentally over it yet.

    One thing that helped me a lot was to have a very aggressive physical therapist. He would convince me to do things that I wasn’t yet comfortable doing - jumping rope, jumping rope on one leg, doing some footwork drills, etc. I still remember how hard it was for me to finally start jumping rope on one foot. Now I don’t think about it at all but it was important (for me at least) to have someone prodding me and convincing me to push the envelope.

    Other than pushing off to sprint forward, side to side movement, overheads, and serves haven’t caused me any problems. Good luck with your recovery!


  7. DavidK - glad to hear you are moving along. The 8 week mark was tough, but my experience in the pool was great as I could almost see improvement on a daily basis. I’d say am about 90% back with my mobility now and you’ll get there before you know it!


  8. Chris, my ATR occurred after rushing the net for a drop-shot, then getting lobbed and then back peddling for an overhead. As I was attempting to push-off my left foot and take the overhead, I heard the “pop”, and crumpled to the ground. I still wonder if that particular sequence, sprinting forward and then running backwards, was my Achilles culprit, or if it was somewhat coincidental. Nonetheless, WHEN I eventually get back on the courts, I know that’s a situation I will hesitate in reacting to as well. My forward plan now is to ease back in to the sport just hitting balls for a while and then, later, playing doubles to start. First, though, I’ve got a lot of fundamental work to do–like re-learning how to walk. -David

  9. Hi Chris,

    Yes, that makes sense. The push off\first step is a big deal in most sports. I remember Norm talking about that when I asked him how he got over the mental part of it.

    I think that a lot of it is mental. My PT has a doctorate (DPT) and is also a certified Personal Trainer. He also likes to push me and has me doing things now that I am mentally struggling with.

    However, that said, I have decided to start pushing the envelope this weekend.

    Thanks for the info.
    Good luck and keep us posted.

  10. Interesting - mine occurred on almost the exact same sequence. My lesson learned when I return to the tennis court - learn to say “good shot” and not try to chase every ball down :-)

  11. Jeff, I STILL haven’t learned that trick, unless the shot is an unanswerable winner!

  12. Will any of you give up tennis, except for casual play?

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