Released into the wild!

September 10th, 2015

10 SEP 2015: Rupture+13 weeks, non-op, early weight bearing

13 1/2 weeks after the “POP!” and my heel dropped bizarrely to the floor when I attempted to push off while playing tennis, my Ortho told me today that I am doing great and that he won’t need to see me again.  I still have a lot of work to do regarding calf strength, but this still feels like a huge milestone.

On a related note: I returned to the gym a few days ago, and it felt great to regain that bit of normalcy!  30 minutes on the bike to get the heart rate up, and then a few rounds of single-leg leg presses, toe extensions, leg curls, etc..  I can hardly remember feeling so satisfied by any workout.  The muscle soreness I encountered over the next couple days actually felt great after three months without it!

This week was the first time since the injury that I have been able to walk “with impunity”.  What I mean is that, although my walk still isn’t entirely normal yet, I no longer fear walking too much and ending up with a sore AT or insane swelling by day’s end.  I walked just over five miles today, and everything feels ok.  Marvelous!

For anyone early in their own journey reading this: have faith, be patient, do your physical therapy and exercises, and you will be here before you know it.

A few reflections, looking back on my experience so far:

1.  Early weight bearing works.

2.  Physical therapy works.  I started PT during week 2 with massage and manipulation, and progressed through various phases as appropriate to where I am now.  Using PT to define what is appropriate at each stage, and doing enough of those exercises on my own time have been key to my recovery.  (I’m not done, of course… but I am where I am because of those activities.)

3.  The right gear is important.  The Elasto-Gel ankle wrap was suggested by a comment early in my recovery, but I was cheap and delayed buying it.  I wish I had bought it sooner, because it is a more efficient and comfortable way to control swelling than my old-school ice pack.  On a similar note, I took a trans-Atlantic flight two weeks after injury without a compression sock… not my smartest moment ever.  Definitely should have acquired a compression sock for that trip.  I used one extensively over the rest of my first couple months.

4.  Activity is important for recovery, but so is caution.  I’ve had at least a half-dozen “oh no” moments, and feel fortunate to not have had a serious setback.  I once stepped on a cobblestone wrong and mildly sprained the outside of my weakened ankle, once did an exercise too aggressively at PT… the list goes on.  Bottom line: it is important to remember that things are more vulnerable than we want to believe while we are recovering.  One would expect a snapped Achilles to make that point pretty well, but stubbornness runs deep in my family.

Happy healing, everyone!


  1. oscillot Says:

    Great job, Evan, keep it up! Just out of curiosity, how early did you bear weight, and how can one be sure when it’s the right time without experiencing alternatives? My doc didn’t allow me to bear weight until week 6, though I felt ready and wanted to start at week 4.

  2. oscillot Says:


  3. ejbvmi Says:

    I started PWB after two weeks, and was FWB in the boot at four weeks. The protocol my Doc gave had that timeline, and both he and my PT gave me the green light before I proceeded. Though I was hugely grateful for the quality of life boost when I shed the crutches, I doubt that a two week difference in FWB makes a monumental difference to one’s outcome. If the Doc says wait, we wait. Three months in a cast, though? My Doc told me that they used to have all sorts of bad outcomes (long term limited range of motion, re-ruptures, etc) with that old school approach. His office has seen the improvements brought by the new approach in their patients. I am grateful that he subscribed to the early weight bearing approach when I came along. Knowing what I know now, I would recommend that anyone whose Doc says “three months in a cast” has a serious conversation about early weight bearing and advocates for themselves. Every case is different, but the top level question I would suggest they ask: “The data say that EWB leads to better outcomes… what data support three months in a cast?”

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  4. bobfv Says:

    Congrats Evan,

    Sounds like you are making great progress and it pretty much mirrors mine, in terms of progress, timeline, and protocol. I agree with everything you said. I have started alternating elliptical with Nike for my cardio, and I know what you mean - it feels so great to be sore from working out! Best of luck in your continued recovery.

  5. bobfv Says:

    “bike”not “Nike”

  6. ejbvmi Says:

    Thanks, Bob!

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