20 weeks

This week was somewhat of an ironic milestone.  For the first time I had difficulty remembering to do my exercises, except when in the pool.  I went on a business trip and forgot completely about my regimen for an entire day.  So, in that sense, I’m almost back to normal.  As to actual AT function, I am still well shy of a full one leg heel raise and I do have some swelling and very slight pain after being on it for a long while (like playing golf) or driving for more than an hour.  Have not tried tennis yet but hope to begin easing back in starting this week.   I could jog now if I wanted to but have pretty much become addicted to swimming as my primary cardio.   Don’t think I could go fast enough running to get my heart rate up any way.   I should be back on the elipticals now but can’t seem to find the time or interest to take a day off swimming.

It’s great to see others taking a serious look at the non surgical route.  As every week goes by, and more stories are reported on both sides, the evidence seems to increasingly favor nature versus the knife.

4 Responses to “20 weeks”

  1. Sounds, good, Gunner! I’m afraid I’m getting lazy about working the calf, too, because life is so back to normal. (I never DID do many 1-leg calf raises, actually! ;-) )

    For me, the main exercise — cardiovascular and calves — is bicycling, which I really just do for a handy and healthy way to get around in the city. Today I cycled for almost an hour and a half, which is a lot for me. I try to keep the balls of my feet on the pedals and “work” my ankles hard to do the work.

    But at 7 months I’m still only doing wimpy or pseudo 1-leg heel raises. Full stride push-off, normal bicycling including mounting and dismounting on the recovering foot, and even lifting my heel off the floor with my knee bent, but not with it straight.

    Mikek753 seems to be the leader in our little non-surgical group, for getting back that much calf strength. I’m pretty confident both of us will eventually catch up to him, but I’m not sure when.

    As you know, my very conservative surgeon from 8 years ago (when I had my first ATR operated on) told me to hold off on volleyball and other high-AT-stress sports until I could do a bunch of 1-leg heel raises without grunting or groaning. I don’t know whether that’s excessively conservative or not, and it may depend more on whether you’re psychologically capable of not “giving 110%” when playing competitive sports.

    But I’m so busy enjoying sailing small boats (and racing them), and bicycling, that I’m in no rush to play volleyball just now.

    BTW, my experience with switching between running activities and swimming for exercise is that switching in EITHER direction initially was so cardio-difficult and difficult on the legs, etc., that I felt like I was going to die!

    When I was in grad school, I’d been playing squash a few times a week at lunch time. But I decided to switch to swimming laps in the University pool. After the first few times, I felt like I was going to die! Then after maybe a month, I decided I didn’t love swimming laps, so I went back to squash — and felt like I was going to die!

    So don’t be too sure that your slow AT-cautious, calf-weak running wouldn’t get your heart rate up!

  2. Hi Norm: Its not my calf that troubles me about running. It’s my feet and back which took me out of running about 12 years ago (after 5 miles a day for 20 years or so and hundreds of 10ks).

    The big thing I’m concerned about is tennis, where there are, probably like volleyball, ,moments when its almost irresistable to push off going forward to get a short ball. Given my ultra competitive instincts, even the fear of reinjury or popping the other AT may not be enough to prevent disaster.

    If any tennis guys see this, I’d be interested in whether any of have returned to full speed on the court.

    best regards, dr. norm

  3. Tennis and volleyball are pretty similar, to an AT.

    In addition to the normal runs and turns that tear some ATs, they both sometimes involve the “classic” move that tore both of mine, and is responsible for maybe 40-50% of all ATRs: You’re convinced the ball is going behind you, so you’re backing up with some speed, but you suddenly realize that it’s really in front of you, so you “fire the jets” as hard as possible to reverse your backwards momentum and lunge forward.

    That “move” happens ALL the time in volleyball, especially on front-row defense. Not quite so frequently in tennis, but it sure happens. (A good deceptive opponent will force you to make that move often! “Here comes a long lob — NO, it’s a drop shot!”)

    If an AT has become weaker than its calf muscles — i.e., if it can be ruptured — that’s the move that will do it first! The “reverse gear” produces maximum stretch, and the intense attempt to get going forward applies maximum stress (and eccentric loading) to the tendon at the same time.

    (I sometimes ask people to imagine they had a big rubber band or bungie, with a weight tied to the end, and they were told to tear the elastic with one hand and no tools. To have the best chance, you could stand on the side of a bridge, throw the weight down as hard as you can, then yank upwards just as the weight reaches the bottom of its “bungie jump”. If that doesn’t tear it, it’s too strong for you [and that weight].)

    Unfortunately, that move is a central and fun part of many aggressive competitive sports. In addition, the difference between tearing an AT this year from doing that high-risk move, versus tearing it 1 or 5 or even 20 years from now doing something more sedate, isn’t a difference that’s important to me, or one that’s worth losing years of fun activity for. That’s why I returned to my high-risk sport, with abandon, even though I knew (and believed) I was at risk of rupturing my other AT.

    Now that it actually happened, 8 yrs later, I’m still grateful for the joy I got from 7 excellent seasons of competitive volleyball. (And I’m especially grateful that I’ve escaped surgery and had a faster rehab protocol this time, thanks to the new studies and a “with it” surgeon!)

    P.S. As gunner knows, I’m not really a doctor, and I don’t even play one on TV! Just a scientifically literate both-sides ATR patient with some time and motivation on this subject.

  4. Thanks for the blog and comments. Good stuff! I definitely need to exercise more, that’s for sure. Thanks for being examples to me!!

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