Week 11, noticeable progress, AT Brace use?

Hi all, a shorter, brief update as I enter week 11.  I am not seeing my doctor until after the 12 week mark, so not much professional feedback other than the progress I have made on my own.  I am now able to walk a mile in 2 shoes pretty easily, and this past weekend did 2 miles on a dirt trail with little discomfort.  My limp is pretty much gone at this point as well.  My pushoff on my injured leg is not where I want it to be of course, but I notice a fair amount of calf strength returning compared to the way it looked and felt after week 7.  Like others, I have some stiffness in the AT each morning, but as I get moving it works itself out.  I have not retired my boot yet either, as when I am in crowded places I still feel safer in it.  When sore from walking last week I also put it on at the gym to do upper body.  By week 12 I hope to officially retire it.  I am going to PT twice a week, and he has said my ROM is great and I am progressing nicely.  I plan on continuing the 2x/week PT for maybe one more week or so as it does get expensive, and a lot of the exercises I can do at my own gym.  My doctor said starting this week he will be OK with me starting the elliptical, something that I will verify with my PT tonight.  It would be a welcome change from the bike, which to me is hard to do for more than 30 min w/o the boredome setting in.  Like starting with the bike about a month ago, the question of how much resistance to use and how hard to push in general on the elliptical at this point in recovery is something I can forsee having a hard time deciding on.  I am so close to that 12 week mark, and I want to stay on the recovery path, and not have to utter the word setback.

My July 1st doc appt is something I am greatly looking forward to as I may be cleared to begin light running.  I go back and forth with thinking if I am ready for that, as last week after a 1 mile walk I was quite sore, and then after a 2 mile walk this weekend I felt more than able to keep going.  I am nervous to say the least but with two full weeks to go I may feel more ready.  One thing I have been contemplating, is buying an achilles brace for running.  I am looking at the Bauerfeind AchilloTrain AT Support brace, however it is really pricy.  Does anyone have any experience with a brace like this?  Would I get the same results from something cheaper?  Or, is it even worth wearing one to begin with?  I have compression socks, but want to be as fully prepared to run, and do so safely, in a few weeks, and if this is a very helpful piece of equipment I would not mind spending the money.  Well, this doesn’t appear to be as brief a post as I thought after all.  And, for those behind me, at week 6-7 I could barely limp in sneakers 1/4 mile and had no pushoff, now pretty close to a full pushoff and measuring my walks by mile, not feet, 4 weeks later. 

5 Responses to “Week 11, noticeable progress, AT Brace use?”

  1. It sounds good.

    If you’re mostly looking at exercise to rebuild your strength and function (as opposed to running because you’re going nuts without it!), I tend to be a wimp. Many people who push hard to rebuild their atrophied leg ASAP seem to have setbacks, or flirt with chronic pains. Your leg has been loafing for a long time, so just walking around a lot and doing the ADL that you’re comfy with (for me, that included bicycling around town, sailing and racing small boats, and walking around a sailing club that was littered with huge scary pine cones!) will be “serious exercise” for your weak and still-rusty leg.

    Others disagree, of course, and recommend a more targeted body-building approach to rebuilding the weak body parts.

    I waited ’til around 10-11 months to return to my “poison” (competitive volleyball), though others have returned quicker — though often not playing all-out, as I did from the start.

  2. Being a distance runner the motivation to run again was very strong. About week 12 I felt I could run a little but my PT told me to wait. I of course thought better and while I was walking around the olympic rowing course I took a couple of steps into a jog. That was it. Back to walking. Big ouch. A few more weeks past that and I was more ready. I found it much better to build things up walking up hill and on uneven ground. Another very helpful thing my PT put me on to was the mini tramp. I used to laugh when I saw them sold as a piece of exercise equipment but they are fantastic for this injury. She would get me to jog 3 steps then stop and balance on one leg for a short time then continue and balance on the other leg after the next 3. Do that for 10 minutes and you get lots of muscles worked.

  3. Thanks for the perspective, at PT yesterday I did mostly mostly balancing exercises where I was doing all sorts of movements and rotations while balancing on the bad leg. It felt good in the sense that my calf was firing. Today I am going to try a combo of the stationary bike and the elliptical for the first time. It is exciting to add another piece of cardio to the regimen. As I move closer to week 12 my PT said he is going to have me do “modified” plyometrics and “simulated” running exercises to prepare me for the month ahead. I am not entirely sure what those exercises entail, but I am excited and trust him that it will be of great benefit. Like you said Stuart, I’m not expecting the day after my 12th week is complete to actually run, but am curious to take a few running steps and see how it feels, and if I experience a similar “ouch” reaction. Norm you probably did the smart and safest route to return to your sport, I wish you can pass a little more patience over here!

  4. It really sounds like you have a switched on PT and I am sure you are very aware of your body. The biggest issues with running are of course the increased load and the extra flexion needed and I understand completely the curiousity. Been there too so good luck with it over the next few weeks. It is a good feeling. The problem when you start running again is maintaining the patience to do it within your limitations. It seems patience is one of the many things we take out of this injury.

  5. And patience is one thing I sorely lacked, although I have had to learn some over the past almost 3 months. I did 30 min on the bike up to a 9 resistance by the end and between 80-90rpm thoughout, followed by my first time on the ellipical for 20 min, with a few levels of resistance mixed in. Today, no extra soreness like I expected. I am encouraged for the next couple weeks based on this.

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