2012 Archive

May 29

Well I haven’t updated this since 5 weeks post op. This upcoming Friday will be 13. Here is the news I got and what I learned.

I got a tubular repair done to my achilles. Not sure any information on that particular method beyond that.

Almost 4 weeks ago I saw a specialist here in Park City. Dr. Tim Beals. Beals has diagnosed two ankle breaks on me before and scoped both my ankles. He helps out the US Snowboard and Ski team a bit too, plus the guy keeps it real.

Beals biggest concern with Achilles injuries are tendons healing elongated. I mentioned weeks ago, can’t push on a rope. Well, at 8 weeks I came out of the boot a few hours a day (a protocol that some athletes use) and started getting some range back. I followed up with Beals and he said… the tendon takes 3 months to heal. Achilles have poor blood flow and in all honesty, stay in the VACOcast for a few more weeks and we’ll come out of it if all looks well then.
Well, when I am at my training facility I usually am not wearing a boot, I wear a sneaker with a 2 inch heal lift to prevent dorsi-flexion. When I am not training, I am in my VACO cast at 10 degrees plantar flexion.

I have been working my calf out like crazy (doctors orders) and have been making noticeable progress. I guess I am rehabbing between 8-12 hours a week and am training in the gym another 15-20 on top of that… so yes I should be noticing progress.

The biggest thing with major injuries like this, is patience. I told Beals I want to compete in December at my first World Cup in Austria. He told me, it is reasonable to do that, but I need to keep after it.
Well… that is what is getting me up every morning.

Beals also let me know that some studies have showed that vibrations help healing. I spend 5 minutes a day on a vibration plate I have at my facility. Most information says between 20-40 hz is the way to go with vibration.

I have been keeping in touch with two friends who have ruptured their Achilles in the past. One is just returning to sport at the 6-month mark, the other took a year off. Although he was 10 years older than me when he did his.

Right now my rehab exercises are as follow:
warm up (walking or bike)
3×15 two up, one down calf raises on a shuttle with 36.5lbs
walking on my toes at max plantar flexion then 50%
some balance work on a foam pad with a 4 inch block at the heal
and shooting some hoops

there are a few other exercises i alternate in. partial weight bearing on my operated side only with one leg.

I am also in the pool doing calf raises. I wear water shoes with a heal lift in the pool

At the 11 week mark I started noticing my calf muscle coming back.

Things are slow and frustrating… but are coming along.

I have been updating my youtube channel weekly if anyone is interested.

some skit comedy, some injury talk.


Apr 06

I am 5 weeks post op. Recovery seems to be going well, but I suppose it is pretty hard to judge at the moment. I am lucky enough to have a good medical staff to work with and excellent equipment.

I am using a VACOcast which is awesome and am 50% weight bearing right now… with the cast on.
My gym has a treadmill called the Alter-G. The alter-g has a computer hooked up to a balloon similar to a bouncy castle. The person walking in it.. on it… wears a pair of shorts with a rubber seal and steps into a hole in the balloon. The alter-G fills up with air and one is can walk from full weight bearing to 0% weight bearing. Pretty neat stuff. I am also doing some work in an under water treadmill with my VACOcast on. I think I am still 7+ weeks from getting out of the my boot.

On top of the rehab mentioned earlier, I added some hip exercises and scar tissue work. The scar tissue is pretty tender at the moment. Most of it seems on the surface. I am using a Deep Muscle Stimulator which operates like an air hammer, to desensitize the skin. Apparently vibrations work best with that.

I also did something stupid…
I was hopping around on my good leg in the pool area of my gym. I slipped on the wet surface and of course caught myself dorsiflexion on my right foot that was operated on. The pain was pretty bad… but I am a mary anyway. I had it checked out and it seems like I may have pulled on a suture. I don’t think it is too much of a setback. I just do not want that to happen again.
On that note…
I heard the most common time for re-ruptures at between 6 weeks and 4 months. The sutures used for stitching tissue back together dissolve in that time. If an incident does happen and one isn’t healed… then a re-rupture can happen.

I was told I can’t push on a rope. So take it easy during the healing process. I guess what that means is avoid dorsiflexion all together until the tendon is healed. Stretching the tendon out will cause it to heal elongated. An elongated tendon is like a rope, so any plantarflexion would be pushing on it. Toe side turns are real important in my sport. I don’t want to push on a rope.

Well I have PT again tomorrow at 11am. I am hoping to be 100% weight bearing with my VACOcast by next Friday. I keep hearing that the more I take my time on this end, the more it pays off on the other side of recovery. The Steadman Hawkins clinic in Vail have done studies where accelerated recovery may return athletes to sport quickly, but within 5 years, the amount of re-ruptures in tissue (ligaments and tendons) are staggering. Long recovery is good. I am happy if I am competing in my first world cup again in December.

If you want to catch some of what I do check out

Mar 29

No walking dead here, not even walking yet… sort of walking… just read on

I got a letter from my surgeon. He told me to not jump around like a "young horse" and to keep at the rehab. Speaking of rehab, here is what have been doing every day…

Towel curls with my toes - 5 mins

Towel curls anterior and post-terior - 5 mins

seated calf raises at 90 degrees 3 x 20

seated calf raises with 4 inch heel lift 3 x 20. The heel lift helps strengthen tendons and muscles at the extreme point of plantar flexion.

Three times a week I am on the stationary bike and am doing core/upper body too. Although it is tough to stay motivated.

I also have my PT working my range of motion every way except dorsiflexion. At 3 weeks, I had my plantar flexion up to 35 degrees… compared to 42 on my healthy leg. Healthy is in italics because my left foot has hardware in it and also had it scoped last year to remove bone spurs.

My doctor also told me I am not to go past neutral for a few weeks. Not sure what a few is, but I will follow my team’s Achilles protocol (US Snowboard Team) to make sure I am 100% for next season.

The good people over at VACOcast sent me their Achilles/Pro boot. I received this last Friday. For the $299.00 price tag I highly recommend this for any Achilles rupture recovery. By the suggestion of my PT I am at 20 degrees plantar flexion in the boot with 30% body weight bearing. Roughly 60 lbs… of pure muscle… duh. VACOcast can be adjusted so many different ways.

Today I walked on a treadmill under water with my boot on. I also did some aqua jogging… senior citizen style. The VACOcast is going to help out a ton with rehab as it can go underwater.

I am in no pain now and hopefully will be weight bearing with this boot in a week or two. The tendon will not be fully recovered for roughly 3 months after surgery. My goal is to be back on snow in September.

I’ll keep posting about how rehab is developing.

Check out my newest video. A long hobble to my snowboard sponsor.. Kessler

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/e1QrCIc1kKg" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Mar 22

I feel I may be able to help people on this website due to the access I have to physical therapist and a solid medical staff.

I am an athlete on the US Snowboard Teams SBX Squad. Last year I was ranked 3rd in the world and US National Champion. This year my season ended a little early due to an Achilles rupture on March 1st. I was ranked 4th in the world at the time.

So the background of the accident:

On March 1st I fully ruptured my Achilles while snowboarding. I hit a jump that wouldn’t take down a second day ski-blader. You can witness the accident here (

Last Run of the Day - Team Cheever : Episode 8 - YouTube

) or http://www.youtube.com/teamcheever episode 8

I ruptured my Achilles just above my heel.

I had surgery at Chirurgie & Sport Dr. Schenk in Schrunz, Austria on March 2nd. Dr. Schenk is a well known Orthopedic surgeon that operates in the middle of the night, barefoot and does works on the Austrian Ski team. Skiing in Austria is like the NFL in the states so he is the real deal.

I also had my ankle scoped and debrised while I was at it. This is my second surgery on this foot. I have two other injuries (broken lateral and medial malleolus )

I have surgery footage as well as other antics on episode 9 at http://www.youtube.com/teamcheever or here (

Achilles Last Run - Team Cheever : Episode 9 - YouTube

) It’s entertaining stuff, I swear!

I was out of surgery at 2am. I was woken up by a physical therapist at 9:30 who showed me how to crutch around. It was not my first time on crutches, but she was ordered to have me put 15kg (33lbs) on my injured foot every time I walked. (NO DORSIFLEXION )

There was NO nerve block put on my leg during the operation.

I was put in a cast just below 90 degrees one week out of surgery.

On Monday the 12th of March, I was put in a half cast at 90 degrees. I currently use a heel lift to keep my foot just slightly below 90 degrees.

Right now, I am in Park City, UT. My team is based out of here so I get to see my physical therapist every day. Currently I am curling a towel up between my toes, working on lateral, interior and plantarflexion range of motion. 15 plantar 30 interior 25 posterior are what I was at on Monday the 19th.

I am allowed to do sitting calf raises right now, but atrophy has set in. In the mean time, I am keeping my hips, quads and hamstrings moving and am doing band work too.

Normally, I guess, patients would stay in plaster for a lot longer. I was given the option for a half cast for traveling (feet swell up on the plane) and to get it moving. I am real careful.

The people at VACOcast are gracious enough to send me a boot that I should receive on Friday. I will be sure to give feedback on that.

From what I gathered. Some people could go weight bearing, right off the bat others shouldn’t. My rupture is just about my heel.

Currently it is March 21st. I am nearly 3 weeks out of surgery and not much has changed. The swelling has been completely gone for about 4 days now. I think normally it would disappear sooner, but remember my ankle was scoped. Arthroscopie requires the joint to be filled with fluid. So it is swollen for a long time.

I see my PT again tomorrow. I’ll keep progress posted on here.

Thanks for reading,

Jonathan Cheever


joncheever’s AchillesBlog