Wow! Like everyone else out there I doubted I’d ever get back to any form of normalcy. But now over 10 months later I’m progressing well and am starting to feel a lot more confident in my routine. I’m still a bit nervous about anything that requires quick side-to-side movements or jumping but I have worked out steadily for the past 7-8 months. I finally quit going to PT after about 3 months because I was doing as much at home as I was at PT. The only thing I wasn’t getting was the ultrasound treatments, which I was getting twice a week… oh, and I wasn’t getting hit with the little copay each visit.
Anyway, I started with mostly upper body weightlifting and after the first month or so I folded in some leg exercises. I did mostly leg lifts and leg curls with light weight and some calf raises without weights. It wasn’t long before I was able to do more weight without discomfort. I made sure I stretched ahead of time and ice afterwards. I also warmed up on the stationary bike but not each time.
For the past 2 months I have been doing deep squats every other day in the mornings, adding 5 pounds each time. I read a lot about squats and found that I was doing them all wrong before on my Smith Machine (typical workout machine that guides the barbell along its track). What I learned is first you have to do squats with a barbell, which strengthens not only the core but the whole body more closely to natural movement. I do deep squats with the barbell lower on my back which helps avoid knee injury and work quads, gluts, and hamstrings. I’m careful not to lean forward on my toes and keep my heels planted on the floor. I started with just the 45 pound barbell and gradually have worked up to 185 pounds in the 2 months. I also am doing 225 dead lifts.
I have to say that I constantly think about my Achilles when doing my exercises. I’m not one of those crazy guys you see in the gym all the time. In fact, I’ve never squatted over 100 pounds and always had to drop them out of my workout routine because of knee pain. At the 185 pound mark (goal is a 200 pound squat) I feel pretty good and do not feel any pain in my Achilles. I do sometimes feel a small amount of tightness but no pain and usually it is gone by the end of the day. I weigh now 227 pounds. I dropped down to 220 before starting my workouts. If you’re saying “oh, he’s a big guy” remember I’m 6′-4″ tall so I’m not one of those meaty guys at the gym. I will say now I’m leaner and stronger than I was when I weighed 238.
I’m not sure if I’ve read about anyone else doing squats as part of their rehab but I thought I’d share my story and ask if anyone has experienced any problems from doing them. I will say that the Internet has information all over the map on whether or not they are good or bad. Overall, doing squats has strengthened my thighs and calves, which I read will always help protect from damage to joints and tendons. At 50, I think I’m in as good a shape as I’ve ever been!
At my 12 month milestone I plan to start jogging on the treadmill and ride my bike at least a few times a month. I rode it for the first time 3 weeks ago and it felt great except that it was a bit awkward from not riding in so long.
Hope this gives encouragement to those just getting started on their path to recovery! Feedback is always appreciated!