swimming with the tide

Just got back from the pool.  One of the best (and few!) serendipities from my ATR has been “hydrotherapy” which I began about 3 weeks ago (I’m now 12 weeks and change since dday).  My regimen included 5min. each walking forward, backward and sidestep, 120 heel lifts and balancing on the bad leg, all in chest deep water.  Its hard to describe the invigoration these few steps created in the first days.  Perhaps what a young bird experiences in the maiden flights!  Of course, I rapidly doubled the time spent on each activity, which, in my mind contributed substantially a big leap in strength and flexion. 

At PT last week, the therapist was so impressed with my ability to “step over cones” (anyone else had that on their regimen?) that he went next door to get the ortho doc (my golfing buddy).  The doc could not break away but, responding to the description, cleared me to completely discard the beloved vacocast with the exception of times when lots of steps on lots of stairs and elev. changes would be required. 

My current on land regimen includes 5 exercises:

60 heel lifts; 30 toe crunches; 2 achilles stretches (dorsiflexion) on the floor holding for 15 seconds; 5 round trips stepping over cones forwards and sidestep; and standing on the one bad leg for 15 seconds 5 times.  In this last balance exercise, he asked me to progress from standing to standing with eyes closed to standing on a pillow to pillow with eyes closed to pillow throwing a ball to someone.  I quickly mastered all the “eyes open” drills, but find it incredibly difficult to make it 5 seconds, let alone 15 with eyes shut.  Its some comfort to realize how difficult it is with my good leg as well. 

Back to the water.  I have several friends who have been raving about our new rec. center pool and the benefits they are deriving from swimming as their primary cardio and conditoniing tool.  I grew up swimming competitively until, at age 13, I had severe swimmers ear one winter, took up basketball, and never looked back (hence the name “gunner”).  So it’s been 46 years since I have swum regularly except for a few brief forays into triathlon training, which never amounted to more than a few distance swims. 

But being in the pool, seeing guys training, many my age, I could not resist moving into a lane and firing out.  First day I did 20 laps - 16 free/4 backstroke(my childhood “stroke”).  It felt terrific.  Of course, after 9 weeks of inactivity, that’s not saying much, but I was hooked.  Each day I added two laps so today I did 44, well over 1/2 mile.  The guys were right - this is a great workout - especially for someone with a mending achilles; weak ankles; and periodic low back pain. 

So I commend to you the great power of water in our journey.

3 Responses to “swimming with the tide”

  1. very impressive recovery
    thanks for details of your drill / exercises
    I’m 10+ weeks
    I plan to start in complex pool from day water will be heated - from June 1st
    I might think to start it early - will try to tolerate “cold” water
    I started less then a week ago 2 heels - it added pain and takes time to recover.
    I get very stiff foot right after 10 2 foots heel rises and have to relax for about 10 - 30 min
    I do 60 sec dorsiflex 2 foots - one forward, straight and bend positions - 2 for each leg - 4 total (4 min)
    I’m limping - you may see my videos from my page

    Do you limp or not anymore and when you got normal walking?

  2. That’s a great story (again), gunner! I have no idea why we don’t see this post listed on the main page — though we do see your “About gunner” page listed.


    I wish I’d found it easier to get together with a swimming pool when I couldn’t walk without limping. I suppose I could still use one to do some buoyant 1-leg heel raises, but I think the chance for a real “high” may be behind me now.

    I saw a science show on TV (Cdn. Discovery Channel) that swore that the length of time we can balance on one foot eyes closed is a simple and immutable (and inverse) function of chronological age. I suppose some things — like injury, immobilization, and atrophy — can make it WORSE, but the authors of this study(?) had established that we’re fairly powerless to avoid the gradual loss of that particular skill. I can believe that it’s true — depressing for those of us of “a certain age”, but true.

    So the appropriate rehab goal for your recovering foot may not be your PT’s goal, but just to match your “good” foot.

    Of course, the other problem with balancing on your “bad” foot with your eyes closed, is that it seems really SCARY! You really don’t want to discover that you’re losing your balance in the “forward” direction!

  3. I post what might be wrong about About page, but it isn’t shown - pending moderation

    in short:

    I made the same mistake as you did with new posting already twice!!!
    You added new PAGE instead of new POST.

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