6 months post-op: Hitting the slopes!

Sorry I haven’t posted in quite a long time but it is because my life is back to “normal” and I had no pressing need to refer to all of the helpful info on this site.  But yesterday I hit another milestone and figured I would post: I went for my 6 month post-surgery follow up and the doctor released me to full activities.  He recommended that if I play any sport with explosive leg movements that I ease into it at first since my injured leg’s calf muscle is still not as strong as it was prior to the injury.   I did a month of rehab with a physical therapist starting when I got my boot off and that definitely helped with ROM and some strength BUT I am now resolved to the fact that the strength will take longer to recover than I had hoped.   I continue to do calf exercises 2 - 3 times per week on my own in the gym but it seems I have hit a plateau.  So, my hope is that now that I can start doing things like running and playing some sports that my strength will come back more quickly.  My scar seems to be fading and my thickened tendon seems to be getting smaller over time.  I have been very busy teaching spin class and that has probably helped with blood flow and some strengthening and stretching of the tendon.

Overall, I am really satisfied with how everything turned out.    I am in PA and there is snow everywhere so when it starts to get warmer in the Spring I will start jogging and riding the bike outside too.  In the meantime, I am going to get back to snowboarding starting today (going after work).  I am not a jump/trick kind of rider (I like to go as fast as possible from top to bottom) and in general snowboarding isn’t a huge calf/ankle stressing activity so I anticipate no problems.

Well, that’s all for now.  For those who are still in the throes of recovery, hang in there.  It’s over before you know it.  Fortunately (or unfortunately) time passes quickly and you’ll wonder where all of those months of casts, crutches and PT went.

8 Responses to “6 months post-op: Hitting the slopes!”

  1. doug53
    December 23rd, 2009 | 8:11 am

    Getting your calf strength all the way back may take more than 2-3 intense but brief efforts a week at the gym. Try getting calf strength work into your everyday activities.

    When you’re alone, (or when people understand and won’t think you’re weird), walk around up on your toes, and do it as much as you can. When that’s too easy, bounce on those toes more, even jumping from one foot to the other when you’re reaching full strength.

    Being up on your toes also works the calf at the plantarflexed end of its range, where the strength tends to come back the slowest.

    Great progress can be made without any gym equipment.

    Have fun in the snow,


  2. atuldoc007
    December 23rd, 2009 | 8:28 am

    it seems you hav done great progress from ATR.saw your photos of leg.it is nicely healed.at what time have u started running. i am 20 weeks post op and physio cleared me for running but i still limp considerably so i feared lot.can you help me

  3. 2ndtimer
    December 23rd, 2009 | 8:38 pm

    It was good to hear from you again…

    I find it hard, too, to get the calf strength back. Great tip, Doug53! Walking on toes is a good workout. And however impossible it sounds, my PT wants me to do calf raises every day, as many as I can… I am at 24 weeks and can do single calf raises, but can not raise my heel as high as the good one. I am doing some going up on 2 feet, and then transferring the weight to the bad foot and trying to keep it as high as I can… Also was told to do “scooped” heel raises, kind of like the ballet dancers, turning the heels towards the inside as I am going up.

  4. jberton31
    December 27th, 2009 | 8:22 am

    Thanks for the responses all.

    Doug53/2ndtimer - walking on my toes was one of my therapists recommendations that I haven’t yet put into practice (as you said, it is hard to do that without people thinking you’re nuts). I am going to start doing it walking around the house like that though. I am also thinking jumping rope may help.

    atuldoc007 - To this point I have not done much running at all. I wanted to wait to get clearance from my doc so now I can start. I did jog a little when I first got my boot off at around 8 weeks but only for short distances. Since getting the boot off I have mostly been doing spin class on the stationary bike which has helped with strength and flexibility but there is no impact. Now I have to start in with more impact and eventually work in pushing off harder. I have been lucky that I have not experienced much of a limp at all. I wish you the best of luck.

    By the way, the snowboarding was great! No issues with the calf or Achilles at all.

  5. linda atterton
    December 28th, 2009 | 7:06 am

    Hi there
    we have skiing booked mid March, another 11 weeks away and so far am not fully weight bearing yet. Can I ask what stage you were at around 3 months please? Am keen to go but the balance due 3rd January and don’t want to waste over £2000! Is there anything physio or equipment side which might speed up? I can FWB for very short periods, in boot, indoors, but then it gets sore and am 2 steps back! Any advice appreciated, my son was so keen to go!

  6. GerryR
    December 28th, 2009 | 6:30 pm

    Some comments. First of all cycling, whether stationary bike or road bike, won’t build calf muscle. Calves are essentially useless for cycling. Cycling only strengthens thighs. Look at pro cyclists, they do not have overly developed calves.

    When does your surgeon plan to release you for 2 shoes? That will really be the determining factor. Unless you use rear entry boots, very dangerous by themselves, you will have trouble getting your foot into your ski boot because of swelling. First time I tried it I couldn’t get the boot off fast enough. Now it isn’t a big deal. As far as what you can do, keep walking in the boot. The fact that your leg gets sore is not necessarily an indication of going backwards. When it gets sore, elevate it and ice it. After I was told I could be FWB, I went home and took the boot off and walked around the house barefoot. Barefoot was more comfortable than walking with the boot. I did that for about a week and then just quit using the boot.

  7. jberton31
    December 29th, 2009 | 10:18 am

    I realize that cycling, since it doesn’t involve explosive movements, does not build much calf strength. However, especially when first coming out of my cast/boot where I had no use of the calf muscle for 8 weeks, I definitely felt the increase in ROM and blood flow when riding the bike. In fact, even now at very high tension on the spin bike, I will consciously engage my calf and I do feel muscular fatigue after that type of a work out. Of course this is only supplemental to focused weighted calf exercises like seated and standing calf raises which I also do 2 - 3 times per week.

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