There’s always next year…

Well here I am, almost a year since I tore my achilles playing rugby. At the time both my surgeon and physio said it would be a minimum of a year before I’d be playing again, sadly it seems that they were both correct. Despite my best efforts I will be missing the majority of this season, on the plus side this has nothing to do with the tendon itself and everything to do with the calf muscle mass lost during the rehabilitation process. As I mentioned in my first post (I think), the position I play requires a lot of leg power and balance and as my calf is still 25% smaller and 30% weaker than my other leg, I made the decision not to play again until both legs are equally as strong.

For the majority of this season at least I will have to give up my place in the scrum for a place on the bench….as a water-boy =)

Everything else on the other hand is fine, did have a slight hiccup a few weeks back where I had a micro tear in my calf…a result of me pushing myself too hard to build up the muscle mass. At least I learned something and wont be doing that again, I knew then it was far from the brightest idea I’ve ever had but I guess we all do irrational things from time to time.

This time I’m making no plans for a come back date, just going to play it by ear and let my body tell me when its ready to get out on the field again.

Good luck to all with your recoveries

This Socks!!

No that wasn’t a typo, it is however a very bad pun.

But it does describe something interesting I discovered at the beginning of the week. I usually wear trainers to work and since moving to 2 shoes (which seems like a lifetime ago) I’ve been wearing cushioned low cut sports socks which I thought would add a little more padding around the heel. The problem I’ve only recently noticed is the band constricts around the ankle and tendon, wasn’t uncomfortable, just meant that at the end of the day I’d have a more noticeable limp than at the beginning of the day. I thought it was just my leg getting tired with all the walking I do, so the past couple of days I’ve been going through my usual routine with and without socks. Sounds silly, but without socks made a noticeable difference as there was no pronounced limp at the end of the day.

It’s good to be back!

Well it’s been a while since I last posted anything. Great to see the site up and running again (excuse the pun).

Things are going as well as they can be at the moment. Started doing some light jogging….not having done any cardio work in 5 months it was a shock to the system! Had my last session of PT a few weeks ago and for the first time since this whole process began I had numbers to compare how weak my left leg is to my right. I was strapped in to a chair and they tested my range of motion, how much power I generated and the endurance of both legs. At the time I thought I’d done OK and thought my left leg was 20-30% weaker….that wasn’t the case. My left leg is 50% weaker than my right (a bit disheartening) and ROM was 95%, but I’m glad I did the test and I’m glad that it has helped me reassess my goals. Before I did the test, I thought I had a chance of being ready for the beginning of season in October, but I’m a long way off from that. On the plus side it has even me that little extra motivation to do more.

Discomfort & Heel Pain

Had another PT session on Friday. We focused a lot more ankle strengthening and balance this time round. All in all it was a good session and was given a few more things to work on at home.

I have however felt a fair bit of pain developing on the back of my heel. I haven’t had the chance to speak to anyone about it at the moment as most of the city has been on holiday for Chinese New Year. I’m pretty sure the pain is my own doing as a result of walking around far more than I should be doing and not elevating and icing as much as I should have. There are no visible bruises and there is no tendon pain, just the area behind the heel feels very tender. Has anyone else experienced this before? I guess I need to slow down a bit more and really concentrate on my limitations and not walk around for hours on end.

2 Shoes and 1 Wrecked Boot

Had my boot removed last week and now in 2 shoes (with ¼ inch heel lifts)…what a feeling! The timing was about right to remove the boot as I pretty much wore it to destruction, there were cracks and mud everywhere as I have been doing my best to stay active and not lay around on the sofa all day. Needless to say my physio wasn’t all that impressed with my destroying the boot but was happy with the fact that I’ve gained a lot of ankle and muscle strength with all the walking and other activities I’ve been doing.

The first few steps out of the boot were really my first steps out of the boot. I hadn’t tried walking around the house without the boot as some people on here seem to do, I didn’t want to risk it. The first couple of steps were pretty awkward, made or so by the fact I did them in front of a giant mirror and saw how tiny my calf is now in relation to the rest of my body. All I could really do was laugh, look at my physio and say “I think you might have your work cut out for you.” This was based on our earlier conversations about regaining the same leg power prior to the injury.

The first few days out of the boot had been interesting. In the boot I was getting around at a fairly normal speed, without, my ankle feels a little stiff and I’m taking things a lot slower. I’ve found myself concentrating on every step I take thinking about heel placement, balance, stride length…etc. I’ve also found going down stairs a lot more difficult than going up, 1 step at a time and sideways.

Still have a long road ahead, I’m just happy to have reached another milestone without pain or discomfort.


10 weeks in and trouble free

It’s been a while since I posted anything. I suppose its cause I’ve been getting back in to a fairly normal routine with work and my social life. 10 weeks in and I’m not feeling too bad, still in the boot (with my ankle set at 10 degrees) but I hope that will be removed soon. Still using crutches, 2 for longer journeys, 1 around the office and at home I can get around without (which has been great, being able to get and carry your own coffee in the morning is something I’ve missed)

Had a couple of PT sessions since my last post. The first was good, the physio took measurements of how far I could flex my ankle in all directions, she was a little surprised with my ROM, she also got me on the stationary bike and asked me to pedal for a few minutes. Having not done any cardio in weeks I asked if I could stay on a little longer, which wasn’t a problem just had to let them know if I felt any pain. So after a nice 40min ride at a decent resistance I “hopped” off the bike with no pain but a bit of swelling so I was put in a full leg pressure cast that massaged my entire leg. Second PT session was more of the same with the addition of some calf work with resistance bands (same exercises they’ve asked me to do at home twice a day).

I guess that’s it for now. Just happy that I’ve reached a level of normalcy even though I’m still in the boot. Wishing everyone well in his or her recoveries.


Pics from weeks 4 & 5

First mini PT session

Was back at the rehab center again today. Met with my physio, was asked the routine questions, any pain? Not related to my tendon, [a few days ago I was dealing with the ball off my foot and my heel being saturated in sweat (been moving around a lot) and had pruned up, gone white and was tender at times. Easily treated with a daily powdering and hiking dry sock], any slips or falls? No, have you been doing your isometric exercises? Yes.

She took off my boot did the routine tests and then said she wanted to use a magnetic pulse machine to help with the circulation and reduce the swelling. I’ve read that ultrasounds is commonly used by this was new to me. After that treatment was finished she then asked me to do some outward hip extensions and knee raises, I was a little surprised my this and wasn’t really expecting to do any PT, nor was I dressed for the part, I planned to go straight to work after my appointment. Was walked to the machines and did what I was told, I did have a bit of trouble in the beginning separating my gym mindset to my PT mindset and asked to put more and more weight on. I was shot down immediately and was reminded that I was not the to workout but there to sort my leg out. She said I have been making good progress and am on schedule, I’m just thankful my calf hasn’t shrunk anymore.

Next appointment on the 28th to remove a wedge from my boot and go from 20 down to 10 degrees, looking forward to it.

My story till now

I’m a little late coming to this forum. Short story, I’m 5 weeks Post-Op, PWB in a boot.

Long story, I’m a 25y/o prop forward and completely tore my Achilles during a scrum playing rugby 6 weeks ago. It came completely out of the blue, as I hadn’t felt any discomfort at all during the game. Like everyone else I felt like I had been hit by something on the back of my ankle, not wanting to collapse the scrum and cause further injuries to other players I shouted “May-day!” to the ref who broke the scrum up safely and I was taken off. At the time I thought I had broken my ankle, however our team physio did the Thompson test and told me that I had most likely ruptured my Achilles.

I checked myself in to hospital a couple of days after the initial incident; they confirmed what the physio told me on the side of the pitch. After an ultrasound they told me that there was a 2cm gap between the 2 torn pieces and that surgery was pretty much my only option. 4 days after I checked myself in to hospital I had the surgery and 2 days after that was sent home in a plaster cast NWB.

The first couple of weeks was fairly routine, kept my leg raised as much as possible and didn’t move around too much. My first visit back to the hospital I met my surgeon who I saw for all of 5 mins. Asked if everything was OK and if I had fallen over at any point after my discharge. After playing 20 questions, I had my cast removed and the stitches taken out. At this point I thought I was going to be put in a boot, but no luck, they took the two halves of the cast they just took off and bandaged it back on to my foot. Thinking this was surely unsafe I was told that it was only for a couple of day while they scheduled me an appointment with the rehabilitation center.

My first appointment at the rehab center went well, they took off the cast and said I’d be put in a boot; they also stretched the tendon from 40 to 20 degrees, which was a tad painful.

Had my 2nd appointment with my surgeon last week (week 4). This was a bit of a low point for me, after all the swelling had subsided I realized that my calf had shrunk so much and was nearly 30% smaller than my other. I knew that this was going to happen, I just didn’t realize that it would be fast. I spoke to my doctor about this and he reassured me that this was normal for people who are active and play high impact sports. We also spoke about my recovery timeline and my own personal targets. I told him about wanting to be ready for the start of next season in September 2010, this is where I got my second dip in confidence of the day, he told me that realistically I shouldn’t be looking to play again for at least a year. At the end of the appointment he gave me the all clear to start PWB, which gave me a bit of a pick me up, it just made getting around that much easier. (I didn’t mention before, I live in Hong Kong, and is not the easiest place to get around on crutches).

As for now, I know I’ve got a target to get back on the rugby pitch in a year, but I’m keeping focused on my short term goals and taking it one step at a time.

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