Dear ATR friends,
I have not posted my usual monthly updates in a while because I had nothing to report. Basically, I stopped seeing progress so I decided to wait until I had something more meaningful to share with my fellow ATR comrades. In my case, progress came to a halt at about six months post-op. I have seen little improvement in the past two months.
To give a brief synopsis for the newbies, I ruptured my left Achilles on Sep. 3rd and had surgery on Sept 16 (2011). The injury proved to be devastating and it threw my life upside down. As caveat, I may add I’ve never had serious illnesses or injuries, and my experience with pain up to the injury was limited to dentist visits.
Without a doubt, the ATR was and still is, the most difficult challenge I’ve ever had to face. I’m doing better these days, though I often wonder if I will ever regain the health and fitness status I enjoyed prior to the injury and right now it looks like it won’t happen.
My operated tendon is healing well. I no longer have pain or discomfort, and all that remains is some numbness on the outer foot due to nerve damage. However, the muscle atrophy and persistent weakness are bothersome, and not just because having one leg much smaller than the other is unattractive!
I have been working out with weights and purposely load with heavier weights on the left leg to attempt to bring it up to par with the stronger leg. As far as function, I am doing fairly well with the leg press, lunges and squats (machine, not free weight). But the atrophy seems a constant.
In addition, I still have tendinopathy in my other tendon. This has improved somewhat, and I think it may be due to my discipline doing the eccentric contractions. However, the fear of rupturing and going through the same all over again with my other tendon prevents me from enjoying activities I used to love such as hiking, running, jumping rope, doing stairs, dancing and hard core weight training.
As I have had to adjust my activity level and type of activity, I’ve had to learn how to enjoy other things (older people kind of stuff). I went on a much needed vacation to Canyon Ranch Spa and Resort in Miami Beach, where I had the chance to try all types of fitness classes. I tried spinning and liked it. Even though I will have to work on building my cardiovascular endurance, I can already tell this is going to be the exercise for me. It seems safe for both tendons! At no point I felt discomfort, even when standing on the bike, and best of all, my therapist said “Go for it”…
And that’s where I’m at these days. I wish everyone a speedy recovery, and look forward to reading your experiences.
Good to hear from you again Housemusic! It seems that you have made some good progress- perhaps best of all is the improvement on the non-injured side. I recall that, at one time, you were told a rupture there was inevitable.
A little rehab lifting trick I’ve used with this and other injuries: do a set with the weak side first. Then match whatever reps and weight you did with the strong side (it will be easy). I make it a little game with myself- to see if I can do well enough with the weak side to make the strong side work a bit. It can help to even things out.
There’s a list on this site where people put in their injury dates and such, along with the activity that caused the injury. Looking through that list, it’s easy to spot the most dangerous things for the Achilles. It’s court sports (basketball, tennis, etc.) that seem to be worst. Makes sense- quick, explosive, changes in direction. Soccer is right up there for the same reason. As more and more people do crossfit box jumps, it’s starting to be a player. These are the things *I* would try to avoid, or at least be very careful with. I think, for instance, hiking is pretty low risk. Because it’s so controlled, weightlifting (I think) is pretty safe. We’ll never be 100% safe; we could get hit by lightning walking to the mailbox. It’s just a matter of deciding what’s important to you, and trading off the potential risks. I’ll probably never play basketball - it’s high risk and not remotely important to me.
Thanks for the update!
So glad you’re still contributing to the blog!
Thanks so much for the words of wisdom. I am going to try your lifting trick tonight as I need to add variation to my leg workouts. You are right..we can never be 100% safe, and it’s impossible to live in fear of the next rupture!
So I now concentrate on what I can do and ignore what I cannot do!
Weight training is safe for me, I’ve been at it my entire adult life and I know what to do. I am still shy about dancing or jumping but in all honesty, I’ve scrapped running and don’t miss it. Same with jumping rope, no longer do it. And no box jumping either. My goal has always been to increase muscle mass so I’m spending more time in the weight room and less time doing cardio. The one activity I will pursue is spinning because it is both safe and fun.
Lastly, I was pleasantly surprised with the result of Eccentric Loading on my other tendon. I am still doing 35 reps every day (on each side) followed by massage and ice. It took 3 months to see improvement, but it worked for my tendinopathy.
Next week I will get an ultrasound and see where it’s at.
Keep us posted of your adventures!