I hadn’t realized it’d been about 5 weeks since I’ve posted, but I’ve continued to make a lot of improvements since then. About 2 weeks ago I went to PT and my therapist measured my single leg vertical and single leg broad jumps. My bad leg was able to achieve 85% of my good leg, which he was very happy with. On my own testing, that has since improved to about 90%, but I know that last 10% is going take some time.
I can comfortably run @ 15 mph again, and it’s just my lungs that have to catch up now. I’m almost back to a 60s 400m, which I’m happy about. My calf strength continues to improve, and that’s almost exclusively what I’m focused on now with my rehab. I’ve practiced exploding out of a stance for a sprint, but nothing more than a few steps - I can still feel my heel drop a little bit so it doesn’t yet have the strength needed for a full sprint. My agility has improved drastically. When I posted the week 21 video, I thought that was pretty close to as good as I was going to be. Then when I watched my week 26 video, I was blown away at how much improvement there was - that was really exciting and encouraging to see the progress.
Last week, I decided to try box jumping 36 inches. Pre-injury, I could do 42 inches - it was a challenge, but not terribly hard. Looking at 36 inches, it seemed as intimidating as 42 inches used to be. I was happy to be able to clear it without any issues though! I was tempted to try 42 but I know I’m not there yet. I stacked the boxes up and jumped next to them, and I’ll need to gain a couple of inches before I’m confident enough to try it.
Overall, I still don’t feel as good as my recovery videos look. I don’t really feel pain or discomfort when doing the things you see, but there is still the feeling that I’m not quite “right” yet, if that makes any sense. Based on what others have said, I assume that will come with time. For now, I’m keeping at it - I feel like it is a realistic goal to aim for a 100% recovery in 9 months, so wish me luck!
Thank you again to everyone who has commented - the positive words are nice to read and I hope people are finding my posts helpful as well. I continue to improve my calf strength but it still has a long way to go. My running has improved, and I’m now able to run comfortably at 12 mph on the treadmill. Prior to the injury, I would run at 15mph for 1 minute as part of my training for a competition, so that’s a benchmark that I’m aiming for in my recovery. Hopefully it’s only a few weeks away.
I still have that pain on the inside of my ankle bone, but it continues to improve slowly (much too slow for my liking). I’ve gotten lax on my manual massaging of the scar tissue, and that’s something I need to get back to.
For this week’s videos, I decided to post myself doing a broad jump and running @ 12mph. I hadn’t previously tried this and was uncertain about how it would feel, but once I did it I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t favor my good leg on either my takeoff or landing. As you can see from the 2nd video, my left leg is still a heck of a lot smaller than my right leg, which is annoying but I have to think that as I continue to work, it will eventually grow more. I also wanted the angle from the 2nd video so that I could watch in slow mo and see if I was taking off evenly. I’m glad to see that I am! As for the running, this was after I’d already done a fair amount of work so I was tired, and my stride gets uneven around the 40 second mark.
Also, I realized it’s probably better to respond to comments in posts rather than hoping people see my responses in the comment chains. To that end:
Sorry to hear you’re part of the club, but best of luck in your recovery and I’ll keep my eye out for your blog and updates!
Thanks for the advice and kind words! I’ve actually been following your blog closely and benchmarked my recovery to yours. You seem to have recovered very well and I remember being very envious of where you were at week 12-14, as I wasn’t even close to where you were. Glad to see that everything has continued to progress well for you!
Yesterday marked 5 mos. since my surgery and based on my recent progress I had a goal - I wanted to run a half mile in 3 mins on a treadmill. I’m glad to say that I was able to do that, and it was my lungs that gave out before my legs! I continued to alternate running 90 secs @ 10mph and walking, and ended up doing about 3 miles total. Afterwards, my calf/tendon was really tired and definitely a bit sore today.
I also met someone at the gym yesterday who is 3 weeks behind me in his recovery, and it’s his 2nd time - he ruptured his other AT when he was 23. I felt terrible for him, and we chatted about our recoveries. We both lamented the weakness in our heel raises, and he is frustrated bc he hasn’t quite shaken his limp. He admitted to not being diligent with PT this time around though. His scar was so tiny so as to be almost unnoticeable, and I was envious of that. He seems to think I’m a bit ahead of schedule being able to run reasonably well at this stage as he said it took him 6 mos to return to running the first time around, so that was a good mental boost although I sort of think I’m probably on a normal timeline.
As with anyone who’s going through this recovery, there’s good days and bad days. Lately I’ve had more good than bad, but I’m still very far from where I’d like to be. At this point my main focus is on building my calf strength. My single leg heel raises and eccentric calf raises still leave a lot to be desired. The pain by my ankle bone persists and frustrates me.
I’ve also developed some soreness in my upper tendon/lower calf area that appears only when I stretch, and my PT thinks I’ve been overdoing it. I’m comfortable running normally at 8mph now, and even 10mph, but my cardio conditioning still has more work to do. I’ll alternate between running for 90 secs and then walking for 60 secs, based on a program by my PT.
Anyways, here’s the current state of affairs - as with my other videos, I’d caution that this looks a lot better than it feels. There’s no pain, but the lack of ability to sprint/land/push off the ball of my foot the way that I’d like to is what doesn’t feel good to me.
So I had my 4 month follow up with my doctor last week, and he is very happy with the state of the tendon. He says I’m ahead of schedule on the recovery (I don’t think so, I think that’s him reassuring me) and that I shouldn’t be concerned about the pain I feel on the ankle bone when dorsiflexing hard. He’s unsure of what might be causing it, as he notes that the area is only skin and bone. It continues to improve, but is still very noticeable and prevalent to me. I hope he’s right about this going away over time.
I continue to regain strength at a slower pace than I would like, as single heel raises are still very difficult and when I work on strengthening, I have to use assistance to get through sets of 15 reps. My calf does look a lot better compared to its worst state, so I’m encouraged by that.
Lastly, I tried running tonight while a friend filmed. First I was at 6mph for 10 seconds, then increased to 8mph for 10 seconds, and around the 35 second mark of the video below, I ran at 10 mph for 10 seconds. I think it looks a lot better than it felt to me - I’m normally not a heel striker, but I’m definitely heel striking on my left foot because of the lack of calf strength.
I decided to take a video of what my jog looks like at week 17 after mentioning it in my last post. This was at the end of a workout so my tendon was already a bit sore/sensitive. I jogged at 6mph for about 25 seconds in this video. As mentioned, it’s not the prettiest and I still have a long way to go, but even this minor step helps me mentally.
I’ve been silent over the last 4 weeks mainly out of frustration. I’m now 17 weeks in and over the last 1-2 weeks I’ve finally shaken the limp, but I still lack strength to do a single leg heel raise without assistance (like beanie’s week 16 post video). I can jog with a decent limp and just for entertainment purposes, I did 6 mph on a treadmill the other day just to see how it felt. No pain.
My heel now has a noticeable protrusion/lump of scar tissue which looks awful. I looked back at old pictures and this definitely did not exist at say, the 8 week mark. I guess more scar tissue has formed since then, but I’m hoping there’s something I can do it get back to the range of normalcy.
I’ve also still been plagued by pain on the inside of my ankle bone when I dorsiflex hard or use as much strength for pushing off as I can. My PT and sports chiro have both been perplexed by this, and I’m having a follow up with my doc next week. I think that has hindered my strength progression, but I don’t know for sure. It feels like it must be something on the bone rather than soft tissue, because it is only sore at one specific spot.
I’m beyond frustrated and just wish I could feel normal again, let alone being back to 100%.
Pictures of my 2 ankles for comparison are attached. Well…if someone can help with how to post pics, that’d be great.
Been a few weeks since I’ve updated - not many landmarks, just continuous but slow improvement. I had a follow up with my surgeon last week who seemed to think everything looks ok. He preferred that I use a heel lift for the time being, so I’ve done that for the last week but I’m now totally comfortable without one. My scar is definitely hypertrophic and the skin around the heel is very sensitive still. I recently got silicone strips so hopefully that helps with both issues.
Last night, I finally got 100% ROM with passive dorsiflexion on a straight leg. All along, I’ve had a pain on the inside of my ankle bone that feels like bruising when I dorsiflex as hard as I can. I still have that pain, but I have much more flexibility before it kicks in. My surgeon thinks it’s latent stiffness that will go away as I rehab more. I can now touch my knee to the wall with my foot about .5 inches away from it, a big improvement vs just a few weeks ago when I couldn’t come close to touching while my foot was against the wall. Still a long way to go before I’m as flexible as my good leg.
My Graston sessions with my sports chiro are usually painful, but I do feel like it has softened up the scar tissue a bit. It’s still thick and hopefully that improves with more treatment and time.
My calf is getting stronger, but it’s really slow and frustrating. Standing bilateral heel raises are no problem, but my eccentric and single leg raises are still being done on a leg press. It feels like my strength recovery is slow, but I don’t have any real benchmark to compare. If I walk with short steps I can do it limp-free, but if I walk at the pace I’m used to (I live in NYC so I’m definitely a speed walker), there is still a slight hitch in my step. Mentally, there are good and bad days. The bad ones are tough bc you start to feel like you’ll never walk normally again, let alone get back to high level athletics. But I refuse to let myself get too down - I know it’s part of the process and it’s a challenge to overcome.
Thank you to the people here for their words of encouragement - it definitely helps me keep a positive mindset!
I’ve been frustrated lately with how slowly strength is returning to my calf, but my PT assures me I’m right on schedule. Tomorrow will be 10 weeks post-op.
This morning, I had my first visit with my sports chiro who does Graston work and he taught me specific scar massages, did Graston, and also some sort of laser treatment that he says promotes healing as well. As expected, the massage and Graston were unpleasant, and a few hours later, my Achilles is pretty sore. I was a little nervous given that this was the most aggressively someone has pressed/worked on it, but nothing concerning or unexpected happened.
I sure hope the discomfort is worth it or is a sign of more healing taking place.
I’m now a little over 9 weeks post-op and my strength continues to improve, while my flexibility still has a little bit before I get back to full ROM. I’m walking around in 2 shoes, but frustrated at the small limp and how slowly I walk. But overall, I can’t complain about where I’m at. I’ve even tried some standing bilateral heel raises, although I know my bad leg isn’t doing anywhere close to 50% of the work.
In the past for other minor injuries, I’ve worked with a sports chiropractor that was highly recommended to me and who has been very helpful. He’s allowed me to stay active and is an expert in ART (active release) and the Graston technique and has used them on my elbow and shoulder. Since my PT does not do Graston work, I thought I’d supplement my PT and massage work with his Graston to continue breaking up the scar tissue. My bad Achilles is certainly thicker than my good one, but in the range of pictures I’ve seen, it’s not bad. I figured the Graston could help break up more scar tissue and hopefully accelerate the healing even more.
I will update this post with a picture comparing my two legs once I can get someone to take a pic for me.
I’d love to hear how early other people had Graston work done on their Achilles, part of me is lamenting that I’ve delayed starting on it too long.