Hi Achilles Blog community,

It’s been a while since I checked in, and hope you’re all doing well. I have a question that’s been bugging me lately: once you completed PT and are back to full activity, how do you get over the “plateau” and back to full strength and speed?  I’m at 9 months 9 days post-surgery, have run a couple 5ks and Warrior Dashes, and was feeling solid. Back in the game right? Not so fast …

I started playing softball again, and noticed how my jumping and side-side motion was off by about 25-50%, not to mention my speed around the bases. Ok, understandable and completely foreseen; this is a one-year recovery. Then I did a Spartan Sprint, and felt like garbage; my worst OCR ever.  Admittedly, I could have trained harder and better for it (and 95 degrees + humidity in Southern Maryland in July isn’t ideal), but it really woke me up to just how difficult it is to get back to full strength and speed — and maintain it! — than just getting back to full activity.

All that said, I’m incredibly thankful to even be having this “problem” after everything that ATR can and does mean. By way of anecdote, a good friend just partially tore his “good” AT (he had a full ATR last summer on the other leg), and will have to go through more rest and rehab, so I’m very mindful that I’m in a good place, all things considered, and that it could have been a lot worse. But at the same time, I don’t want to use this “plateau” as an excuse to be a less active person who accepts a larger waistline and is weaker and slower.

If you’ve gotten back to full strength and speed (whether it be sports, running, weight lifting, etc.), how did you do it?

For me, just getting back to the training and activities I was doing before the injury isn’t cutting it. I’m still carrying around some post-surgery weight, especially in my mid-section (which I really want to get rid of), and still have less endurance, jumping ability, and speed (some of which is probably related to the weight, some to the AT and lower leg, etc.). Do I need to train harder in order to get back to pre-injury form and function?  Really try to focus on good nutrition and eliminating bad habits? Or something else? What works well and what doesn’t?

I appreciate your thoughts and advice, and good luck with your own recoveries!





4 Comments so far

  1. andrewc on August 21, 2014 5:01 AM

    Hi Coast2Coast
    I decided to do something completely different and outside of my comfort zone to help me get back to full fitness.
    It was a bit of a gamble but I can now say that I am back to a point where I am fitter than my pre ATR days and I have had zero issues with my ATR leg.
    My approach was to do the Insanity workout. I started in week 14 and finished in week 22. I had to modify a lot of the exercises at first. The key change in my fitness routine was that it made me do exercise 6 days a week. Since finishing the programme (it is 8 weeks long) I have continued with many of the workouts in the programme for 2-3 days a week mixed in with jogging and circuits classes. I really do feel good as a result.
    I think you should have a look at doing something like me which improves your overall fitness levels as well as endurance, jumping ability and speed.
    Good luck

  2. gocanes123 on August 21, 2014 9:18 AM

    Coast2Coast, I could of recently echoed your exact thoughts, as I am experiencing the same issues, although I am relatively further behind you in recovery as I approach my 6 month post ATR. During month 5, I was able to improve from light 5 min jog/walks, to being able to run, albeit very slow, up to 5 miles. I got up to 13.5 miles for the week last week (2 five mile runs, one 3.5 on a tredmill) and felt great, even picking up some speed and getting light hill work in. This week, I’ve had pain all along my tendon, from the heel up, and its concerning. Just when I thought I turned the corner perhaps, I am having pain I havent experienced in months. I was debating calling my ortho, but that would only lead to an mri, so I am just going to rest for a week or 2. Back to your point, I am going through the same physical and mental pitfalls, of “now that I am back reintroducing myself to my sport, I am only a shell of my former self” I know we both will get there, and 6 months from now we will be in a totally different place. But, I can really relate to your frustrations, and the reminder, of how long this injury takes to heal.

  3. davidk on August 21, 2014 11:37 AM

    Coast2Coast, I’m 4 months behind you so not (yet!) qualified to respond, but I’m very interested in following this post of yours. I feel like I’m about 85% recovered at 5 months and hoping to get to 100% as soon as possible. -David

  4. andrew1971 on August 22, 2014 9:57 AM

    I certainly noticed that the method used for certain exercises was being compensated for on my healed Achilles side.

    My solution was Bodycombat, which also highlighted a general lack of joint flexibility elsewhere.

    The idea is to work on getting those twitch muscles working and those power muscles engaged - skipping, hopping and other such exercises would probably work (if your recovery is at a stage to allow of course)

    I just found doing a group class was more fun that trying to do it all alone. Other aerobic type classes would have a similar effect…whatever works for you, but the answer is practice practice practice.

    Good luck :)

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