25 Months …

April 23, 2013

Its been 25 months since my ATR. I joined the ATR club by going back to squash after 3 months off due to a motorbike crash, and playing at full power for 3 days in a row. What was i thinking !!

Anyway here I am 25 months later, fitter than ever and doing plenty of crazy stuff. Squash, Moto x enduro, running, jumping etc. So i really just wanted to give those people out there who have just joined the club or are in the process of recovering, that you will get back to normal.

I was talking with the wife the other day about how scared i was once i ruptured my achillies and how you feel helpless and all those questions that run through your mind. You know the ones i mean…. :)

It seems so long ago now and i really do not think about the injury at all. The main message i got from this injury was to look after my body. Most of us have got here by ‘pushing’ things a little too far. So now i take recovery time between big work outs and let my body rebuild itself. Other than that its business as usual.

Get well all those behind me and once you believe you will recover. Then just enjoy the down time because it will end :)


Full Power Squash!

May 23, 2012

I have been really bad and not blogged for ages, its been 15mths now  since my ATR. Yesterday evening I played a hard 2 hour squash session and aft wards thought it was time to update  my blog and pass on positive feedback to those behind me  on this  journey.

It was at 15 weeks after my ATR and subsequent surgery that I first went back on court. Just training drills etc with my coach for 45 mins but I was back :) 

Then…….. I had a good talk with my self, what was I doing !!!!! I remembered my chance meet with an ex rugby pro player who advised me to leave it a year ( see my previous blog for more detail on that surreal meeting)

So despite feeling great I just took another 6 months rest from squash. I’d found a great sports Physio at our club and he worked out a program for me which I did a couple of times a week, plus the cross trainer. 

At 12 mths I started squash training again,  I could safely say I didnt  think about the achillies at all. First time on I trained for 90 minutes and thought I’d be in trouble the next day but….. Nothing.  AT felt perfect no stiffness or swelling at all. After that it’s been back on court training and playing squash. It takes a time to get back into the mental zone but that’s always the way with squash.

I used to use the stairs in our apartment as my barometer for recovery. Bounding up the stairs 2 or 3 steps at a time I could feel my recovering side get stronger and become more and more balanced. I,d now say I’m 95%.

Couple of days ago I was reaching up and leaning to one side on tip toes to get something from a cupboard in our kitchen when I realised I was on my ATR side. I took this a sure sign of ‘back to normal’

 If I can pass on any advice it would be, first really believe you will get back to normal. Once you get this fixed in your mind then you are simply on a journey back to normal. It is a marathon and as such you don’t want to sprint in the first weeks only to damage yourself in the long run. Looking back, I remember the rush to get from PWB to FWB to 2 Shoes but really the journey is long and from 2 shoes on is the real mental challenge. 

Everyone heals at different speeds and there’s no race. If anything hurts too much back off and rest a bit, you will not be left behind. The body is an amazing device and sometimes it doesn’t need us constantly worrying and focusing on the negatives. If left alone it has a remarkable ability to just sort things out. One  day the limp is just gone…. You can’t force it :)

There are positives about this injury too. I appreciate my freedom on 2 feet like never before, I have learnt how to move more efficiently around the court, and now after working my body hard I rest it ! It’s also taught me to balance my life.

So, I wish all those behind a great journey back to normal and will finish by saying that in our club the current number 1 female player ruptured her ATR 30 mths ago and is now playing at an even higher level than before.

All the best

Full sign off :)……and my mixed up protocol

July 12, 2011

Physio pulled me out the class and told me there’s no point coming to her any more. So that’s it at 17 weeks I’m on my own.

I was saddened to here sulthrnman  reruptured.  Reading  his posts from day one cant help thinking that the barnes and noble coffee shop overstretch of the tendon at 3 weeks non surgery  partly tore the healing tendon.

I’ll give a recap of my mixed up protocol as  it may help  and give hope to those behind me.

After surgery for some reason I was booked in early to see my ortho after 6 days. They took off the cast and examined the surgery site, it was decided that I had healed well enough to take the stitches out. It’s at this point my protocol got out of sink and helped me in the long term. My leg was recast for another 2 weeks in basically exactly the same position.

So I had my foot at the same angle for 3 weeks after surgery. I did move  my toes up and down in my cast constantly and as the swelling went down moved my ankle as if I was trying to get out of the cast.

I’m sure these 3 weeks gave me a really good base to heal the rupture site enough to then be much more aggressive and pain free later on.

My foot was moved and recast end of week 3 to around 30 degree plantar and again at the end of week 4 to end up at 10 degree planter FWB in a cast with a heel for weeks 5and 6

I think because of the early stitches out at week 1,my doctor didn’t want to stress the tendon after just 6 days so left my foot in exactly the same position for another 2 weeks.

Once I ditch the cast at week 6 it was into the vaco boot for 3 weeks, first few days  at 0 fixed then 0 - 5 degree planter, then 10 degrees planter to 5 degrees dorsiflex untlil week 9

Out of the boot it was 2 shoes with some 7mm foam insets in my trainers. I was active all the time throughout the the whole recovery.

From 2 shoes I went from strength to strength and was in the gym with a full leg program. By week 14 i entered the squash court again and started squash training. I’m trying to hold myself back from full power squash but my AT feels fine no pain at all and I forget I even ruptured.

A slight limp appears after a major work out but that’s just fatigue. Calf muscle is as defined as the other but 10% smaller and getter bigger all the time.

I’m really pleased with the speed of recovery and never doubted the return to normality but didn’t think it would be this quick.

Looking back I can’t help thinking that most people, especially if you are active to very active, and I include my self here, are in such a rush to get going in the early weeks that it’s detrimental to our healing.

I met an ex professional rugby player in a coffee shop when I was in a cast at around 3 weeks. He asked about my injury and then told me how his career was ended by a torn ACL. It wasn’t the injury directly that finished him rather that he pushed to fast and hard to get back on the pitch after reconstruction. He assured me that if he had taken it easy over the course of a year he have been fine but  he pushed too hard and although he did play for another 18 months his knee was too painful and he retired. I took this as a message and would like to pass it on again to those behind me. In the grand scheme of life 4 to 6 months is not a lot so take it easy on the road to recovery and if it hurts back off.

Wish everyone a strong recovery.


Squash again …………………….. ☺

June 29, 2011

Cant really believe it but I was on the squash court at 15 weeks. I’ve banned myself from any sort of competition but have been training with the coach. First time on we worked on footwork drills for 15 mins to test the water. For those of you who don’t play that’s basically moving from the centre of the court to all four corners and side walls and playing an imaginary shot then back peddling to the centre ( T )

I was shocked actually that it felt fine, so we moved to drives downs the walls and all sorts of shots. Stopped after 50 mins not because I needed to rather I was felt I didn’t want to push things. My calf was like jelly though as it had a good workout ☺

So I hope this gives some inspiration to those behind me. I have been walking on tip toes around the house as much as possible to strengthen things up. Walking up the stairs on tip toes to really test the water and using a body sculpture machine every morning. Just standing on that on tiptoes for 5 mins and you can hardly walk afterwards.

I was going to call this post ‘Squash and the art of motorcycle maintenance’ because I have far too many vehicles in my life and decided to get all the motorbikes/cars/vans back on the road ready to sell. This involved lots of hands and knees type of maintenance work along with crawling in and out of the pit. The point to all this is that I never gave my AT such a good stretch and work out as doing all this. So much that you forget about it which is the whole point. If we can distract ourselves and get on with something else other than worrying about the AT then it really helps the progress. When I am watching the ball on the squash court I forget about the AT.

Hope this helps those behind me.


12 week mark……..&… OLCR !

June 2, 2011

(this post is a week late ☺)

Well I cant believe its been 12 weeks since my surgery but the calendar doesn’t lie.
Crutching around seems like a long time ago. Since getting out of my walking boot at 9 weeks things have really moved on and I thought I write this to give some info for those behind me.

My AT seems to go from strength to strength. I’ve found just walking and doing normal stuff seems to have been great for stretching and working it out. I’ve forced myself to go up stairs normally and after a couple of goes managed fine, now I don’t even think about it.

Finally rode my big motorbike (Triumph Speed Triple) for the first time around London and now use it all the time ☺ Last Sunday was my first time back in the gym and my physio gave me a workout program of squats, heel raises, stationary bike, hill climber, wobble board etc. I’ve been riding a push bike on the road since week 7 so that’s helped. But today I pushed around 165lbs on the scales which is has come about really quickly. When I started last week it was only around 120lbs

I am please to say I have got to the stage where I sometimes forget about the injury which is a blessing. In fact I do forget, as I found when trying to take a short cut to my sister’s front door, I put my foot on top of the low wall in front of the house and then jumped over…..ouch !!! It’s generally just when I first start to walk I can feel the tightness in the AT. After a good gym session I can walk totally normally although my calf muscle is definitely worn out by then.

Last week I was joking around trying to do a one legged calf raise and did it ! I was really surprised and almost scared to do it again ☺ So haven’t but have pushed my gym training a lot harder since. Here’s a picture of my calf after 11 weeks and before I even started in the gym.

11 Weeks

To help others behind me I have a quick summary of some of my experiences.
This site has been brilliant and I checked it and read posts hourly in the beginning then daily and now almost daily. One thing is clear everybody seems to heal at different rates and every surgeon has their own protocol. So I can only give my own experience of recovery.

1. Get a Limbo or cast protector as soon as you join the ATR club. You can shower immediately and that makes life at least feel better ☺ Took me 2 weeks to get one and I regret not having one on DAY 1
2. Don’t get down with this injury, it will test you, scare you, but you will come out of it and you’ll be stronger and certainly respect your lower leg/feet more.
3. Take motivation from those ahead of you on this journey, its great to know other people have been there survived, and are now back to normal activities
4. Everyone seems to recover at different paces. Listen to your body. I never pushed my foot so it was painful despite doing as much as I could everyday.
5. I was bad at icing and have only done it about 5 times. My ankle gets a bit swollen at the end of the day but its getting less day by day.
6. Use the time you have wisely as once you get back to two feet you’ll have a lot of catching up to do and life will be more hectic trying to make up for lost time ☺
7. Don’t drink too much, not because alcohol stops recovery, but because you’ll either feel great and walk normally and hurt yourself. Or wake up and freak thinking any new pain you have is due to ??? you did the night before ☺

There’s more but I’ll finish here as this post is way too long already..

Happy healing everyone… Jules

“Just stand on tip toes…”

May 5, 2011

To recap 9wks since op, been FWB from 4 weeks post op, currently been in a walking boot.

Friends came over From Germany last weekend to see the Wedding so we ended up walking and walking and walking. Over the 4 days they were here I must have done 20 miles or more.

Didn’t get any tendon pain just boot rubbing on scar. Decided to give 2 shoes a try yesterday, which went well. I’ve been walking around flat normally in 0 shoes since I was out of a cast so didn’t think it’d be a problem.

At my hospital visit today the Ortho’s registrar came in and saw me. He ask me to “pop off my boot and stand on tip toes”, just like that. Which I did but cautiously and slightly scared … Then he asked me to take my good foot off the ground. Maybe I’ve been on here too much but I freaked thinking my AT would snap.

All was well and I couldn’t hold the raise but then i wasn’t giving it max power for some reason ( didn’t feel safe). I wanted to see my Ortho who eventually came in to see me. He was very happy with my progress and said don’t run for another 3 weeks! Fine to do training etc but no rapid push offs. With that I was discharged to PT and told to wean off the boot over next day or two.

My PT seemed really pleased at my walking and checked ankle for stiffness, everything was ok so… the words came out again “just pop up onto your toes please” which I did. Had to do 10 or so heel raises with both feet. Then again I had to try a single calf raise. By now I was starting to think they were trying to break me.

My exercises for the week are sliding down the wall in to a squat holding and pushing back up and good old heel raises with both feet every three hours. Tried out the stationary bike and given the go ahead for biking.

Left the hospital and went straight to bike shop and bought hybrid and road home. So done 3km today and I can feel it ☺

So I’m out there in 2 shoes. I know there’s a long way to go but another milestone has been reached. Its strange, but in a funny way, time seems to have
gone so quickly. The light at the end of the tunnel suddenly appears ☺

Oh and I was talking about vibrations with my Ortho and he swears by the vibrating plates you get in the gyms. Excellent for getting the muscles back, so I’m off to the gym tomorrow to stand on that for a while.

All the best to everyone. This site is such a help as its full of people who really know what you are going through. Thanks Jules

Good Vibrations ………….

April 26, 2011

Before I get on to vibes, a quick recap. I’m 7 weeks 5 days after surgery. Been FWB after 4 weeks, 2 in a cast at 80 degrees and currently in a vaco boot locked at neutral.

I,ve tried to rest my foot but as always the itch to move got too much and so I have actually been very active. Not so much in the gym but just walking, climbing stairs and ladders etc. My PT said to walk as normal as possible with the boot on. At first I tended to throw my knee back as I would move my ATR leg. With a bit of slow motion programming I got the knack and now I walk completely normally with the boot on. Same gait as other leg. In fact I almost feel like running sometimes.

Now to the vibrations. I have also been riding my girlfriends vespa around town. Now it’s a good machine but there’s a lot of vibrations in the foot well. At first it was too much for my ATR foot and I used to hold it off the bodywork. Slowly my leg got tired and I just let it rest on the body and could feel the vibrations going through my foot. After a while I didn’t even notice the vibes.

I’d been walking a lot too and noticed my ATR calf swelling up. Almost pumped up. No definition, but just full like a balloon and probably 5% bigger than the other leg. This was a slight concern so I started regularly getting my foot out of the boot and looking at it. That’s when I started to see a link to when I’d been riding the scooter, the swelling was almost nil if I had just been scootering after i’d been walking. Uhmmm…..

Yesterday my GF and I had a romantic Easter Monday and managed to clock up 60Km on the scooter around London and Richmond park etc. Along with a lot of walking in between. At the end of the day we took a long scooter ride on a scenic route back to our home with plenty of vibes through my foot.

Got home checked my foot out of the boot and….. wow….. hardly any swelling ROM nearly as good as other foot. Walked around the flat completely normally without the boot! Now I was freaked ! It shouldn’t feel this good surely ? Quick Thompson test settled my mind and I thought ok lets try a little NWB heel rise. Just sitting there on the sofa I used the weight of my leg only and raised my heel, and there it was !!!! …… I could believe it I had definition. There was muscle bulge on the outside of my calf nearly the same as the good side. Now I really was freaked and …. went to bed!

Genetically the males in my dads family have large calf muscles . My dad is 73 and his calf muscles are a subject of conversation. A 25 yr old body builder would be seriously proud to have a set like his, in fact I would ☺

Everything is the same this morning and foot feels really good. There is definitely a positive effect from the vibrations. So I have set the vaco at +5 PF degree and tomorrow will add +5 DF and plan to scooter to Scotland and back. Anyone have any views on all this?

Wishing every one well, Jules

PS Scotland was obviously a joke, my GF needs the scooter for work :)

1st PT Visit ….

April 18, 2011

What a relief to get into a walking boot. I’m supposed to be in it for 3 weeks and had asked if I could start PT immediately which was granted. I turned up at the PT department expecting to be doing some serious stretching and strengthening exercises. Well I was way too keen!!

Physio hadn’t seen my Vaco before so that was encouraging…First off once my foot was naked in the flesh. it was the science lesson as she got out her protractor and measured my foot angles. Compared to the good foot P45,D15 I’m P25 and D5.

Then I was shown a few exercises to do. I’m sure people ahead of me have been here but I was told to stand on the bad leg lift my good foot off the ground and tap the ground around me in various areas. No problem I thought, until I tried ! Couldn’t believe it I’d no balance. I would have fallen over if I hadn’t had the bed for support.

Came back to reality fast….. Next it was simple plantar flexes and trying to put bottoms of my feet together. That was it. Supposed to do 3 sets of 10 every 2 hours. See you in three weeks once the ortho has cleared me for 2 shoes.

Scar looked ok, but initially on getting into the boot for the first time last week. I was in such a rush it never occurred to wear a sock. So scar got a big rubbing session over the next 2 days.. Now finally I’m wearing a sock… its bliss.

Already after a heavy weekend of walking and doing my exercises my plantar flex is nearly up to the good foot. Dorsiflex I haven’t really pushed. I am tempted to set the Vaco to +5 dorsi and +10 plantar in a weeks time. Anyone thinks there is a problem with this ?

Happy healings it great weather here on the south coast of the UK and I’m tanning the foot will I write this….

90 deg in vaco, FWB, and crutchless

April 13, 2011

That’s how I left my 6 weeks ortho vist this morning. I’d been FWB in a cast @80 deg and walking without crutches for the last 10 days so the main difference is I’m in a boot.

I took my own vacoped to the NHS hospital and used that rather than the Aircast they use.

As a result of the vaco I can get my jeans over the boot which is handy. I’m wearing a running shoe on the good foot to try and get my heel as high as possible. It’s still isn’t enough so I popped into my local ski shop and got some innersoles and packed out the trainer so I’m now level on my feet.

Walking in the boot is a bit tricky. I’m finding it hard to walk heel to toe as it just feels wrong plus it hurts at the front of my foot/shin lick I’m trying to dorsiflex bur can’t. This maybe because the boot is locked at 90 ???

PT starts from now and my first session is Friday. Ortho happy for me to take boot off when sleeping and stationary for long periods. 

Scheduled to be in boot for 3 weeks then 2 shoes. I’m going to ask Physio about possibly aiming for 5 degree dorsiflex so its easier to walk in the boot.

Getting closer to normality…

Forced into FWB @ 5wks.

April 7, 2011

I had the lovely experience of skating on the tiled kitchen floor  with my crutches. Unbeknown to me my rubbers had worn through to the metal on my last trip outside so when I casually crutched into the kitchen I wasn’t  ready for both crutches slipping and the crazy battle to stay upright came to a halt when I ended up face to face with the fridge.

I always felt that having your foot forward when you are trying to PWB while still being on crutches is a potential nightmare if the crutches slip.

So in order to preserve the good looks of my fridge I binned  the crutches and started FWB with that odd walk with the foot twist out to the side. I can only put weight on my heel anyway. 

My life without crutches starts. 
Just being able to make a coffee and take it into another room is such a pleasant feeling. As for decending stairs I’m back in the premier division. Ascending them I’m still in the Sunday league :)

Norm: now I’m FWB my good leg has already stopped aching around the tendon area. It’s a point worth mentioning to new ATR’s that your good leg may start to hurt.