Back on the basketball court

I’m a long way postop, over 21 months. The early part of my rehab was pretty fast, and my leg has felt nice and strong for over a year. Still, I took my sweet time going back to basketball.

Yesterday, I had an appointment with a doctor who specializes in ultrasound exams of healing ligaments and tendons. The appointment started in a funny way. He asked me to stand on my toes, both feet, no problem. Then he wanted me to stand on the toes of my once-injured foot. Heck with this, I thought, I’ll cut to the chase and show him what I can do. I hopped a few times as high as I could on my good foot, then the other, same height. He got the point, and that was the end of his assessment of my rehab. He said the ultrasound looked great on both sides, no evident areas of weakness at all.

So, to celebrate, I played some basketball today. It certainly wasn’t as competitive a game as I used to play in, and I took it pretty easy, but it was great fun, nevertheless. I didn’t think about my tendon once the whole time. As my body and brain shake off their rust, I hope I can can get back to my old, more competitive game.

Keep healing, everybody,


10 Responses to “Back on the basketball court”

  1. That’s great, Doug, I’m tickled for you — happy that your leg AND your life both let you get back to basketball. Now do watch out for that OTHER leg!!

    Me, I’m getting much more mixed messages from the online “zipper club” folks (open-heart surgery survivors) than from the ATR bloggers, about my returning to volleyball after my upcoming valve replacement. The good news is that I’ve now gone without for almost a year, with no more sign of complete insanity than you’ve all witnessed. :-) The bad news is that my retirement from v-ball may finally have arrived, at 65, and part of me will miss it.

  2. Hi Norm,

    The “life” component of it was finding a game that occurs during my daughter’s 2 1/2 hours at school. Getting back to the more competitive evening game may not be so easy. I also found that I’m a little helpless under the basket, as my neck injury doesn’t allow me to look straight up!

    Another thing I did to protect myself from any further Achilles injuries was to get my weight back down to where it was before my neck injuries and my daughter’s behavior change. The extra weight I was carrying probably helped pop my Achilles last year.

    I hope your valve replacement surgery goes beautifully. What exactly is the bad thing that can happen playing volleyball with a new valve? Blood clots getting loose, maybe?

    Best wishes,


  3. I should pass on something I discovered recently, in case it helps someone else.

    There is a lot of chatter in the running world about “forefoot running.” This is a style of running in which the ball of the foot, not the heel, strikes the ground first. It is a natural way to sprint, but some people run more slowly that way, too, as I did for much of my younger life. Then a runner friend of mine got me running with a heel strike.

    Fast forward many years, and I have significant arthritis in my knees, which limits my running. I tried going back to forefoot running recently, and found I could run much more before my knees started to bother me.

    Forefoot running might also be good for that not-quite-fully-recovered stage after an Achilles rupture, as it works the calf at the plantar flexed end of its range, the hardest part to recover. Does anyone want to give this theory a try and report back?


  4. There was a lot of chatter here a while back about barefoot running, including wearing the weird-looking Vibram 5-finger “shoes”. A lot of that discussion was about forefoot running.

    Me, I’m no runner, but I’m sure most of the fast moving I’ve done one the volleyball court is forefoot running, with no heel strike. The other “move” that gives a great workout to many body parts including the calf and AT is running backwards — also a pretty big part of volleyball and most other court sports, including all the racquet sports. Basketball, too, on defense?. Me, I’d be doing a lot more of it if it were easier to see where I was going! (And also if I weren’t headed in for heart surgery so soon!!)

  5. Doug, I missed your response to my post! Sorry about the neck, glad about the weight!

    I’m not sure that volleyball is exactly contra-indicated after Aortic Valve replacement, it’s more like the vast majority of the post-op “zipper crowd” talk about the “life-changing event”, and generally seem to maintain a more moderate approach to exercise than I ever did. Mind you, so do most guys my age with normal hearts and no surgery. . .

    There is a group at that’s doing marathons and such, though I haven’t noticed any volleyball players yet — and a lot of them are young sprouts.

    In any case, there seems to be a several-month period of cardiac rehab, not to mention the time for the sternum to heal back together. If I dare to ride a bike in March, or ski Whistler at the end of March, I’ll count it a success. And I’m hoping to be more-or-less unimpaired in early May when the dinghy racing season starts.

    But if there are no guarantees in ATR recovery, and “everybody is different”, it sounds like all of that SQUARED for this rehab! The crowd at speaks of “bumps” along the post-op recovery “road” — and they speak of them OFTEN!

    I’ve never loved basketball, but feel free to shoot a few hoops for me!

  6. Fantastic news!

    Personally, I don’t plan on ever “Playing” basketball again… I’ll shoot around and goof off… but no more ball for me, thanks.

    It’s not only this AT that’s helped me make this decision… My right knee is pretty much garbage anyway… I figured I was playing with fire when I hit the courts almost 2 weeks ago, but I thought it would be my knee that would require surgery and rehab.

    So, rather than risk a re-rupture AND/OR a destroyed knee, I’m just gonna be happy with my memories :)
    Lots of good sports memories so I should be fine… Besides, my kids are getting to the age where I can live vicariously through them :) ;)

  7. There’s a great song that goes like this:

    How do I know my youth is all spent?
    My get-up-and-go just got up and went.
    But in spite of it all, I’m able to grin,
    and think of the places my get-up has been.


  8. The verses of that song are cute, too. By Malvina Reynolds, the brilliant author of “Little Boxes” and a few other gems? I was introduced to it by Pete Seeger — LONG before it seemed to apply to me! :-)

  9. Another happy basketball update!

    I’m working days for a few weeks, which is when the less competitive games I went to twice happen. Sunday night, I tried my luck with the young folks. I thought, going in, that I would see how much catching up I have to do to play at my old level of competition.

    Happily, it went much better than I expected, scoring often, playing pretty good defense, getting some rebounds, even blocking a few shots. I smiled after making another basket when one of my teammates said simply, “Doug is back!” Well, my aerobic fitness certainly needs some work before it’s all the way back, but it sure felt great being back and doing well.

    Hang in there folks, it eventually gets better.


  10. I second doug53 comments hang in there it gets better. I also had the ultrasound done at 10months post op and it showed the tendon looked great and fully healed according to person administering it. I could see it on the screen and the tendon looked similar to my “good side” on the screen. At three months the tendon looked disorganized with squiggly lines and now it looks like the good one only wider. Played in my alum soccer game at nine months, softball twice a week since and felt good and even played in our annual turkey bowl football on thanksgiving. Haven’t really noticed a difference in speed or jumping ability but I notice some calf fatigue after playing sports for while, kind of like I’ve done a good bicep workout in my calf. Start indoor soccer this weekend and that will be another stepping stone. The injury does play with your head a little but you forget about when you start playing and after you start doing the things you used to without hesitation your confidence grows. Good luck everyone

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