Made it to the Middle: Weeks 4-12

Hi Again Achilles People –

I initially thought I’d be posting on this more often, but life returns back to normal(ish) when finally weight bearing so I’ve been spending less time on recovery research. I have been keeping notes for the past 8 weeks which I’m posting below in the hopes its useful to someone - as reading your stories has been very useful to me. THANK YOU ALL!!!!

General Overview: Healing slowly but surely. I feel the improvements week over week and happy to take my time with it. I’m at week 12 now which I thought would be a WOW moment but its really just another step.

Therapy: 2x week

Gym: 2x week (nothing more than a sauna / stretch / bike)

Helpful Amazon purchases: Dynadisc, Therabands, Footless compression sleeve, Collagen Peptides (a powder nutritional supplement I’m convinced is helping)

Next Goal: Become fully 2 shoes without the constant fear that any sudden movement will send me snapping. And to do a single leg calf raise (dream big)!

The posts were going to my spam before which I’ve fixed. I’d love to hear your stories and recovery tips – keep them coming! Cheers!

—-

WEEKS 4-5 – The hardest mentally

Starting to get veryyy stir crazy. Many protocols are PWB at this time so was tough mentally. Since I was pretty much at 90 degree flex w my foot I practiced standing a few times with 20% weight on the injured foot. Felt great, but I knew it was a long way away from use. Still very little swelling and I didn’t need to ice/elevate much (although I would elevate anytime I was resting)

Diet: Fruits, veggies, collagen, vitamin C pretty much every day

Exercising: Single leg raises from various angles, ankle ROM, sit-ups, simple stretching (back arms), breathwork every other day

WEEKS 6-7 – I got my hands back!

Post op with the doc. He confirmed things look great and removed the antiseptic protective film from the wound. It looked way better than I expected! His protocol is for 6 weeks WBaT with boot with single wedge. That surprised me because (a) he skipped the PWB and (b) 6 weeks with a wedge won’t prep me for 2 shoes. I asked because its a bit cautious compared to other protocols I’ve read. He agreed, said he’s always cautious, and there’s nothing about my specific surgery that is causing this caution. With that we agreed to wait a few weeks and if I’m ready to remove the wedge can discuss.

Was shown how to use single crutch and was gradually able to remove it after a week. Feels AMAZING getting my hands back. Finally removed the boot to sleep and wrapped the ace bandage tight like a sling to not lose ROM. At week 7 started a new PT within my insurance network. He felt my ROM was good, no pain / swelling, but strength pretty weak as my protocol was a bit conservative. I took steps for the first time without the boot. Felt like walking on a peg leg! No ankle muscles firing at all to keep it in place.

Week 6 Exercises:

Ankle ROM

Towel curl – Use my unrolled ace bandage and curl it up twice

Dynadisc - ankle pumps, then clockwise / counter

Week 7 Exercises:

Towel curl – Use my unrolled ace bandage and curl it up twice

Dynadisc - ankle pumps, then clockwise / counter

Single leg stands 30s x 3 (holding onto wall as needed)

Standing squats (2 legs)

Ankle pumps with green band resistance (all 4 sides)

WEEKS 8 – 10 – Better Every day

Feeling more comfortable around my apt without the boot on. Went to gym for first time and did stretches and sauna. Twice I’ve felt a little tug in the ankle followed by freedom of movement which PT later said it scar tissue breaking away. At week 9 started the Assault bike at the gym – feels great! There’s a peg for your feet which I use when going hard and for more casual speeds will use my heel to push the pedal (I wear sneakers with the single wedge). At week 10 I went on a “ski” trip and spent most the time in the hot tub / sauna which I think really helped flexibility. Added messaging the scar to my personal routine which never gets easier and is especially unfun when the PT does it. Still feeling sore after long uses and take an Aleve 1-2x day. In general I’m better and more optimistic each day

Week 8:

Boot: 1 wedge, always on except sleeping

Exercises:

Towel curl – Use my unrolled ace bandage and curl it up twice

Dynadisc - Ankle pumps, then clockwise / counter

Single leg stands 30s x 3

Standing squats (2 legs)

Seated heel raises (3 sets of 10)

Standing heel raises – leaning against wall, small raises (80% of weight on good foot)

Ankle pumps with green band resistance (all 4 sides)

Practice slow barefoot walking – focus on the toe maintaining contact and the glut working

Massage the scar – perpendicular, then up the leg

Week 9:

Boot: 1 wedge 80%, 0 wedge 20% of day. Removed inside apt for small practice walks

Added Exercises:

Standing calf stretch – first with leg straight, then bent to get both calf muscles (3x 30s)

Standing heel raises – leaning against wall, small raises (70% of weight on good foot)

Week 10:

Boot: 1 wedge 60%, 0 wedge 40% of day. Removed inside after work hours

Added Exercises:

Standing heel raises – leaning against wall, small raises (60% of weight on good foot)

Ankle pumps with blue band resistance (all 4 sides)

Single leg step downs – starting at 1 inch height

WEEKS 11-12 – The end isn’t exactly near

Had my 12 week post op a week early since the doc was traveling - all looks great! Received permission to lose the boot… which is wild because I feel nowhere near ready for that. Decided to do Week 11 getting myself to 0 wedge and Week 12 will start with the shoes. During this time I’m still doing PT 2x week for aggressive scar massaging (ouch) and supervised stretches.

Went to Zermatt during Week 11 and did way more walking/hiking than expected and found myself needing to add the wedge back in by the end of the day. Foot was also crazy swollen almost the whole trip I think due to the flight/altitude. Week 12 I’m back in the city and doing boot (no wedge) commuting to/from work and sneakers at the office. Still in slight disbelief that I’ll be able to brave the subways without the boot. I also live on a 5th floor walkup apt which I’m not flexible enough to tackle properly. Finding it so weird that I’ve been wanting to get to this point for so long and now I’m so scared for it! Hoping it’ll come with time.

Week 11:

Boot: 1 wedge 20%, 0 wedge 80% of day. Removed inside and after work hours

Added Exercises:

Standing heel raises – small raises (50% of weight on good foot)

Single leg step downs – 2 in height

Single leg stands – trying for no hands - 30s x 3

Around the clock balance – Stand on bad leg and tap good leg to the front, side, back, and behind like a curtsey – 3 sets of 5

Week 12:

Boot: 0 wedge 20%, SNEAKERS 80% of day. Wearing boot to/from work

Added Exercises:

Around the clock balance – Stand on bad leg and tap good leg to the front, side, back, and behind like a curtsey – 3 sets of 5

Standing heel raises – balanced weight going up, 60% weight on bad foot going down

Single leg step downs – Actual stairs, very slowly

9 Responses to “Made it to the Middle: Weeks 4-12”

  1. Hi Lauren,
    I’m glad you’re doing so well. I’m at 4 weeks post surgery today and am still NWB in my boot. Next week I can start 50% weight bearing , which makes me nervous to think about. Back to Dr the following week. Will that mean FWB, PT, wedge removal? No clue.
    Those collagen peptides sound interesting. I have thin skin and bruise easily, especially now on aspirin 2x daily. Wonder if it might help.
    Enjoy your day.

  2. Nice update Lauren. Steve, I’m 4 weeks and my doctor said I can put full weight on it. Heel feels a little weird so I’ve been putting a little weight and practicing standing up with a little weight on bad leg. I went from 30°(probably equivalent to 1.5″) to 15° on my vacoped. Seems like every doctor seems to have a different protocol for rehabilitation. Hang in there.

  3. Thanks Joey. Glad you’re able to start full weight. Me being and old cocker of 63 and my doc needing to grab a tendon behind my knee to help my degenerative AT will probably keep me on the conservative side. I’m recently retired and am hoping I’m mobile enough to get to my son’s Law School Graduation at Northwestern in May. Good luck in your recovery sir.

  4. Hi Steve, As Joey mentioned every doc has different protocol and its great you’re taking things slowly. You’ll most likely start out PWB with a wedge and use a single crutch for a while (FYI - the crutch goes on the side of the good leg… I was doing it wrong at first!). Your heel will feel a little weird because those nerves haven’t been used in a while. There’s no reason to be nervous with this phase - your tendon is fixed in place with the boot/wedge so you’re still very protected.

    I definitely recommend the collagen supplements. Of course I could be feeling a placebo effect but there’s tons of research that support its overall benefits to skin, bones, joints, muscles, etc. I use the Sports Research brand on Amazon, over 20k ratings almost all positive. Give it a shot!

    https://www.amazon.com/Collagen-Peptides-Grass-Fed-Certified-Friendly/dp/B00XQ2XGAA/

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