Six months on, calf at full strength!

Hello all,

It has been six months since that ATRocious day I popped my tendon playing basketball, with surgery five days later. I can honestly say the calf is back to full strength, with just one exception. The strength is all there for the single leg calf raises. I measured each calf lifting around 460 pounds, with just a few pounds difference between the two. When I jump, though, that sudden burst (such as it is at 53 years old) still isn’t all there yet, so there is still a little more work to be done.

I posted a couple of days ago about the possibility that using a vibrating massager might limit muscle atrophy in the early postop period, as there is a rat study that strongly suggests it could help, and I did use a vibrating massager on my calf starting the day after surgery. That may well have been an unintentional but nevertheless important part of my rehab. The bad news is that so many are stuck in those (*censored*) casts during that period, and that removes vibration as an option. I think using vibration massage starting very soon postop may be worth a clinical trial. I’m going to check with my ortho and PT and see what they think. If it does indeed help, it’s a very simple way to make the recovery easier. If you’re about to have surgery and won’t be stuck in a cast, I would consider getting a good, vigorous vibrating massager. Other than paying for the massager, there isn’t a down side to using it that I can think of, and it feels good, too.

Best wishes,


8 Responses to “Six months on, calf at full strength!”

  1. Doug - really appreciate you taking the time to document your recovery. I am going to push my own recovery a bit and it’s helpful to see some details on how to safely do it.

    You’re 53, right? Do you intend to return to full-court basketball again?

  2. Hi Tom,

    At first I thought there was no way I would play basketball again after 53 years, but now I’m weakening. If I do go back, I think I’ll give it a year off at least, just to be extra safe. Losing my extra weight wouldn’t hurt, either. I guess I’m not sure yet.

    I’m glad you have found my ramblings useful. I was hoping someone would get some ideas from those posts.


  3. Doug - is your calf the same size as the other one yet? I’m at about 5 months and I’ve found that my strength is getting closer, but the calf is still substantially smaller.


  4. Hi Stacy,

    I’m glad to hear you are doing so well. I just measured my calves to be sure my eyes weren’t fooling me, but they are the same circumference. If your calf is strong, the size will follow with time, I imagine.

    Your talk of falling off your bike brings back bad memories for me. Three years ago next week I had a nasty bike accident that probably would have killed me had I not been wearing a helmet. Like you, my knees (arthritis, in my case) hold up my running, but also it’s my neck (from that bike accident) that limits my biking miles. I haven’t bought myself a recumbent yet, but I may give in soon.

    Best wishes,


  5. Doug53 - Hey Doug! You seem to be a bit of a guru on these matters, so do you know if there is an exercise for working the quad muscle on the injured leg while NWB? Mine has shrunk horribly (over 1″ difference between good and bad leg measured around the quad - which is a lot for me as I am only a tiny wee thing!). I’m gutted because I have no cruciate ligament in that knee after a skiing injury and I need a good strong quad. I don’t injure myself very often, but when I do, I do a proper job! I do loads of leg lifts and bend and straighten it while sitting, but just can’t seem to get at that damn quad effectively! Any suggestions gratefully received. Thanks,

  6. Hi Smoley,

    Would this do the job?

    Lie on your back, in a “sitting” position, so your hips and your knees are both at 90 degree angles. Cross your ankles, good ankle on top. Move both ankles to your butt. Then push the front of your bad ankle against the back of your good ankle, and slowly straighten your bad leg’s knee as the hamstrings of the good leg provide resistance. Then drop the ankles back down and repeat as much as you like.

    The mental picture I used when I did this was that I was lifting a weight, with one end of a rope tied to the weight, and the other end of the rope held by the squeezing between my ankles. If the ankles don’t squeeze together hard enough, the imaginary rope slips through, but you also have to move the ankles upward to lift the weight at the same time.

    This is a “dynamic tension” exercise, of the sort popularized by Charles Atlas decades ago.

    Would that work for you?


  7. Dear Doug - you truly are a guru! That certainly works things harder than just waving my legs around, which just make me feel like a fly in its death throws! The weight on a rope image helped too. Many thanks - you’re a star!

  8. Hi Doug, thank you for the reference and for sharing your experience. I will keep it in mind for whenever the time comes. I’m in a cast 11 days post op. Please kindly let me know if you have suggestions for now and the next couple of weeks. Best,

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