lotus10’s AchillesBlog

9 weeks, walking is still slow

Posted in Uncategorized by lotus10 on the September 8, 2010

Saw my ortho today, 9 weeks post-op. Short visit; he seemed okay with my progress so far. Probably no jumping/running sort of activity (=tennis) until ~January.

I’ve had 10 physical therapy sessions - oh I do not enjoy these at all. It irritates me to no end when I’m goaded on to do some exercises and am told “don’t be afraid…” because it’s not that I’m afraid. The leg just can’t do some things yet. I’m such a grinch at the facility. I don’t think I’ll ever do well with a “personal trainer”.

I am completely free of devices now, walking in clogs without backs.
The leg is fairly swollen most of the time, it still does not fit into any shoes except flip-flops or slipper-like ones. My PT recommended compression stockings… which cost $60 a pair! They do help though, especially when I have to walk a lot at work.

Walking is slow. There’s no pain. It’s just tight, in the medial calf region, not in the back where the tendon is - the surgeon said that’s the area of the soleus muscle, which also gets affected. Yes I do the exercises at home, reluctantly but quite diligently.

It’s so much better, I know, than the days on crutches. But now my recovery feels like it’s hit a plateau — I’m not seeing big milestones, like “I can walk with one crutch!” “I can walk without a cane!” — and I have to pull my thoughts out of being so glass-half-empty. I think I’ll start swimming.

5 Responses to '9 weeks, walking is still slow'

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  1. elsurfer said,

    on September 8th, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    I’m having similar walking issues, no pain, it’s just tight. Same area of the calf. I’m finding that ROM and stretching helps a lot, I have to do it all day long. However; I’m finding incremental improvement every day. At times at the end of the day though, it can swell up and get tight again. When I wake up the next, I do find that things are easier to do.

    And there’s always mental aspects to work on like keeping your toes pointed straight when walking or rolling your ATR’d foot from heel to toe when stepping to the point of where you do it naturally w/o thinking. These get harder as the day wears on and you get tired…

    I’m finding now for me that going down stairs is the next big challenge. I can only do 1 step at time. I think it’ll be a big milestone when I can step down stairs normally, but you can really screw up if you’re not careful. I would think that this is almost near a calf raise…

    My experience with PT is opposite from some of what I’ve read here. They won’t let me do enough strength work so I’m doing more on my own on top of their exercises. Still cautious however…

    My expectation is that by October ( ten weeks post op), I won’t be limping unevenly and that my stride will be naturally normal. Doug caught the hitch in my video, but I hope to not linger in that “frustrating plateau” phase too long.

  2. normofthenorth said,

    on September 9th, 2010 at 12:51 am

    I had early soreness in my foot, which my PT said was where one of the smaller tendons that can flex the ankle (PTT?) attaches to the bone. When you’re starting to look for strength from muscles that don’t have much, it seems that other muscles pitch in to do the work of the exercise, and sometimes they overdo.

    Lotus, I’m sorry that plateau feels frustrating, but you’re not alone in that. I’m more concerned about the constant swelling. Are you doing much rest, elevation, and icing? Others have found relief from compression, but these three were my mainstays.

    Surfer, I think you’re already easily strong enough to walk down stairs, one after another, left-right-left-right, as long as you do it the way I’ve described a few times. (You could practice it in a boot, just to be super-safe while rehearsing. It’s a boot-type move, in a way.)

    Just step down onto your “bad” foot, one step down, but don’t put it squarely on the step. Toe straight ahead, but hanging way off the far end of the step. Maybe 50% on the step, and 50% hanging over air — or even hanging farther out. Your weight is all on your heel. (It may sound scary, but it’s quite safe once you get used to it — provided you Pay Attention!!)

    Then when you step across down one MORE step with your “good” foot, your “bad” ankle doesn’t have to dorsiflex to keep up, it just has to let your foot “roll” around the “nose” of the stair.Your ankle never flexes past neutral! And on you go. Don’t start in your slipperiest shoes, but with shoes with reasonable traction it should work remarkably well.

    It’s a “cheat” for your calf and AT, because they don’t have to work hardly at all. Your heel supports your weight, then maybe your arch on the stair nose. But to the casual observer, it looks like you’re walking stairs at high speed, and just like a normal person — unless they zoom in on your precise foot placement on the step!

  3. elsurfer said,

    on September 9th, 2010 at 2:14 pm


    Interesting, I’m going to use that method and slowly move the heel back from the front edge as I gain confidence and strength. Thanks for the suggestion.

  4. lotus said,

    on September 12th, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    Thanks elsurfer, thanks Norm. The swelling is slowly getting less. The worst and the peak of swelling was in the first few days out of the boot. It’s been about two weeks in two shoes, and even without the compression socks - can’t wear everyday, as I only bought one pair - it’s definitely better, but still a bit tight to get into sneakers. I particularly don’t enjoy the sensation of the back of shoes against the leg. There’s still tightness, but once it loosens up, it’s looser than the day before, and the day before that. I think I’m a few weeks away from going down the stairs as you suggest, though.

  5. jonathan31 said,

    on September 20th, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    swelling is the enemy. Once you beat the swelling everything just falls into place with natural strengthening. I can’t believe the price of those compression socks!! ouch! I was given one for free.. and a second free one just for the sake of laundry cycles. They are effective. Try icing 4 times a day if your swelling is that bad, 10 mins. each.

    I look at my 4 month old baby and I relate her muscle development with my injury. Now is the first ever time she’s ever used her neck muscles. They can barely hold the weight of her head. At 4 months of age, her neck is much stronger, but still very shaky. The thing is, she has more opportunity to strengthen it than I do my calf as my injury REQUIRES me to be on my feet and walking as little as possible. So if her progress is slow, I’m reminded that mine should be even slower.

    I’m 4 months post op. My cast has been off for 2 months, but I still need to rest it as if the cast is still on. I accepted this for the most part, I think about my injury maybe 1% of the time. I’m back to life as normal. I’m fairly used to not doing a lot physically which has become a natural part of my daily activity… or lack thereof. It will all sink in for you. Once it does, this will all be at the back of your head and you’ll be able to enjoy your life as if it’s normal again… just changed from before.

    As for plateaus, well, they are every week or every other week unfortunately. Just something to get used to. I don’t really look forward to them really. I’m thinking one month now I’ll see a new one… likely in strength. Now that my swelling has disappeared, I have regained almost complete flexibility.(I can nearly squat to the ground). The heel pain has almost disappeared too. Walking is fairly normal again, no more limp.. so yeah, I suppose there are milestones, you just don’t notice them until you stop to think about it because they occur so gradually…

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