Week 9- Standing Heel Raises

Well, I now officially know why people cry in physical therapy.  Up until now, it’s been pretty fun, aside from the occasional massage/torture on scar tissue.  Today, my physical therapist asked me to do things I don’t even remember how to do- like stand up from a chair without using my arms and leaning forward on one foot without using a bar for balance- without my boot on.  I told her that I thought I was going to cry but she really didn’t back off.   I am SO worried about re-rupture as this is the exact time it happened last time in my rehab process.  Granted, it’s an entirely different protocol but I am still so shaky.   She assured me I could do this and that my foot was protected since there was a towel under my heel.  So, reluctantly I followed her instructions and I could actually do everything!

She sent me home with a new set of home exercises, all to be done with a shoe and lift in the heel or a towel under my heel at all times.  She wants me to do “forward leans”, where I stand with my injured foot in the front and the uninjured foot in the back.  I lean forward on the injured foot until my toe grabs and hold for 10 seconds.  I repeat that until 3 sets of 10 are done.  Then, I do standing heel raises where I get to hold onto a chair.  I really didn’t think I could do these at this point but I could thankfully.  Next I do single leg balances, keeping my knee “soft”.  I hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.  Last, I sit to stand where I literally just stand up without using my hands to push or any momentum.  I slowly lower myself back onto the chair and then repeat 10-20 times, depending on how I feel.

She told me I could start doing half squats during my work outs, as long as I’m wearing my boot.  She wants me to make sure I’m leaning back into the squat and not letting my knees move forward over my toes, as that would put too much strain on my achilles.

So the differences between where I am now and where I was last time, just a few days before I re-ruptured my achilles?  I remember always feeling like my achilles was SO tight last time.  I was already in shoes and running errands all over town.  I thought it was just normal for my achilles and bottom of my heel to hurt any time I walked or tried to stand.  This time, my achilles really isn’t hurting at all.  I stopped a couple of times to point out little twinges in the sides of my heels but she said that is normal.  It’s apparently just from all of the muscles and tendons realizing they need to work.  I told her I was concerned that I’m not as flexible as I was at this point last time but her reply was “good!”  She said that means the calf and tendon are actually getting stronger and she wants it to be a little less flexible at this point.

I am really having a hard time with switching to the flatter, skinnier sole on the Vacocast.  I try to put it on and it just seems like my heel is dipping below the 5 degrees it’s supposed to.  I guess that’s just because the achilles sole is so huge?  I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this as my physical therapist and doctor aren’t too familiar with the Vacocast.

7 Responses to “Week 9- Standing Heel Raises”

  1. Holly, my heart goes out to you! I can’t imagine how bad the fear is on a second time around. But is sounds like you are doing great and that your physio is excellent and knows what she is doing. All the exercises she’s given you match with what I was doing at this stage and she sounds on point with not wanting too much stretching yet. You will get flexibility back later, it’s not important early on and too much too early could hurt your recovery. I had a nickname for the “squats” you are doing when you stand up from a chair with no hands .. I called them couch squats :)

    Regarding the Vacocast … I tried to use the flat sole when I was at 0 degrees but it always caused me pain at the back of my knee and sometimes with too much of a stretch on the achilles. I couldn’t get it to roll like the wedge sole, so my knee would end up hyper-extending or pushing backwards and this was really uncomfortable and painful. I also walked much slower with it. Since I had an EvenUp and no problems walking with the wedge sole, I decided it didn’t matter if I kept using the wedge sole since my foot was still at 0 degrees while I walked.

    All the best and good luck with your rehab!

  2. Beanie- Thank you so much. I won’t worry about switching the sole then. They actually still have me at 5 degrees so I’ll just hang tight with the way it is now.
    I love that- couch squats!
    Have a great week!

  3. Holly, you are one week ahead of me on this second go-round of yours, and I hope my therapist does not have me do the exercises you were given this week! My ankle hurts just from reading about it! LOL…. Though, seriously, I’d do it if the therapist tells me to… but I will be petrified!
    thanks again for sharing!…….. Manny

  4. Holly…
    You are a warrior. I’m so happy to hear that your tendon isn’t as tight and doesn’t hurt this time around. I didn’t have a Vacocast. I just went with the normal Moon boot and I didn’t have any wedges. The doc just told me to start walking in it. Wish I had some insight for you. Glad your PT is going well and you’re advancing so well.
    Keep up the amazing progress…!!!

  5. Holly,
    Sounds like you are doing great. I’m about 5 1/2 weeks post non-surgery. I’m pretty far behind you so I like hearing how things go for you.
    Keep up the good work and keep us informed.
    I know I’ll be picking everyone’s brain once I start PT and get into shoes. ( the scariest time)


  6. Manny, It’s so good to know that I’m not alone in being worried about this kind of exercises. I was horrified at the thought! But, I did the today at home for the first time and my foot actually cooperated. I guess I’ll trust my PT even more now.
    Bryanb, thank you for the words of encouragement. If you didn’t have any wedges, then I might be overthinking this whole thing! That’s good to know that it’s possible.
    Karren, I think you’ll really like PT. It’s a love/hate thing because I love the progress I’m making but hate the process of getting there. It really is nice to ask them the practical questions to find out how you really make this transition. I hope it goes really well for you!

  7. Good luck on your continuing recovery Holly

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