CardioJunkie’s AchillesBlog

18 Weeks - Getting Stronger

December 28, 2014 · 10 Comments

This past Christmas week was the ski trip I originally thought I would be leaving my skis at home. I envisioned spending days in front of the fireplace with a mug of hot cocoa, hanging out at the spa, or waiting at Miguel’s Cantina for everyone to return from skiing. Over the past month, I’ve done a ton of squats, lunges, weights, and conditioning so that I can ski by Christmas. I was glad to get in the gondola, head to the top of the mountain, and hit the slopes with everyone.

At Week 15, I felt the beginnings of a turnaround in my recovery.  There are days when I don’t pay a lot of attention to injury #1 and #2 because the swelling and pain have decreased.  I’ve been able to build strength in my foot, ankle, and calf and this has allowed me to focus other activities.  There are days in which I overdo things, so I pull back, reassess, and move on.

Overall strength increases are at a faster pace because I am able to do more.  I’ve been developing my workouts based on what I learned at PT, knowing what works for my muscles, and customizing depending on how my injury is feeling.  I am building towards a return to Kickboxing and Step classes in some form without plyometrics in the coming weeks.

Walking and Stairs – A few weeks ago, I was trying too hard to walk with proper gait and go down the stairs.  The strength in my foot and ankle was just not there.  My therapist had me walking on the balls of my feet and maintaining single leg balance on a Bosu.  I added other activities to increase strength.  I am walking heel to toe with push-off and walking down stairs more normally.  My right leg is not 100%, but I don’t worry about it because advancing fitness and activities should help that along.

Physical Therapy – I do double heel raises and single ones down on most days.  My heel AT sometimes gets aggravated, but has steadily improved.  My therapist understands that I want to progress to running, so one new exercise is hopping with both feet or hop in and out on a springboard.  Eventually, I will alternate to single leg as a progression towards jogging.  In another exercise, I stand balanced on dino disks and catch a ball being thrown from different directions and heights.  My therapist encourages me to try activities at the gym for a short time and see if my AT can tolerate it.  If I am not able to do an activity now, I try again in another week.

Workouts – I center my workouts around single leg activities.  When things start getting easy, I transition them to a faster pace or add more dynamic movements:

- Weights/Conditioning:  P90X DVD workouts, single leg body hinges with weight or barbell, squats and lunges of all angles and types on glides, etc.

- Kickboxing:  I work single leg balance by doing kickboxing drills.  This involves repeated sets of front kicks, roundhouse kicks, sidekicks, and back kicks.  I do footwork with uppercuts, jab-cross, or hooks in standing, lunged, or varying foot positions.

- High Step Platform:  I do fast sequences of knee strikes, side leg out with a short hop, and back leg raise on a step platform.  Eventually, I will advance these to beginner Plyometrics workouts (YouTube link is in Ron’s Achilles blog).

What’s Next – I just finished a couple of Kickboxing classes which combine Karate, Muay Thai, and Boxing.  Even though I have to wait on fast footwork, high knee running, jump lunges, or jump kicks, I can complete everything else.  I was extremely (and happily) sore after the first class.  In the coming weeks, I will work on increasing pace and endurance.  In my mind, the way to build strength is by doing fitness activities you are familiar with, at a controlled pace, and listening to your injury.  There is still a lot of work to get back to Boot Camp, HITT, or Tabata style workouts, but I am making progress.

Categories: Uncategorized

10 responses so far ↓

  • herewegoagain // Dec 29th 2014 at 9:42 am

    Wow you are getting strong- that’s fantastic!

  • normofthenorth // Dec 29th 2014 at 2:05 pm

    Sounds great. Glad you got skiing - but not surprised! ;-)
    Just one caution: if you’re getting pain at the back of the heel (AT attachment point), I’d back off. I’d avoid walking the tightrope to keep the pain moderate, for fear you’ll develop a chronic problem. Just my opinion, of course. But this isn’t a muscle, and No Pain No Gain doesn’t apply here, IMO.

  • cardiojunkie // Dec 29th 2014 at 4:55 pm

    herewegoagain - Always good to hear from you. You’re always upbeat and positive!

  • cardiojunkie // Dec 29th 2014 at 5:10 pm

    Norm - Yes, thanks for the caution on tendon (I keep reminding myself that recovery takes time and not to rush things). Skiing — I would have been miserable this past week if it weren’t for you. What you said in my first post made me rethink about skiing. I did have to tighten my boot because it was loose due to my smaller calf.

  • normofthenorth // Dec 31st 2014 at 1:46 am


  • Herewegoagain // Jan 1st 2015 at 7:50 pm

    I try and keep positive- some days take a bit more work on that front! I totally agree with you that familiar activities are perfect and taking a controlled pace is the way to go. It bypasses much of the frustration that comes if unrealistic timeframes are placed on regaining strength. It all comes back with patience.

  • Brenda // Jan 2nd 2015 at 11:12 am

    I’m so glad to read this. I am three weeks behind you, doing a non-op recovery, and feeling so frustrated watching my boyfriend and friends go off skiing. I am really hoping to be back on skis by February, and you just gave me even more hope that this will be possible!

  • normofthenorth // Jan 2nd 2015 at 2:29 pm

    Brenda, I was happy in Whistler at 17 weeks non-op, following the UWO protocol. I don’t think it would have worked with an Old School non-op Conservative Casting approach, but I was fine on the slopes, including some “cliffs” and one “yard sale”! Details above or elsewhere (my blog).

  • Herewegoagain // Jan 2nd 2015 at 11:46 pm

    Brenda I am at 19 weeks and also non op. I am hoping to be back on skis in a week or two. Good luck, I share your frustration watching friends and family heading out to ski daily is tough!

  • cardiojunkie // Jan 3rd 2015 at 2:05 pm

    Herewegoagain and Brenda — Glad to hear other folks are going skiing and getting part of what we enjoy back. Around 4 months is when most of the initial swelling and discomforts start to dissipate, you have a better idea of what to expect from your injury, and you would have built leg strength to ski. Enjoy!

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