Year and a half

June 12, 2017

You don’t see many posts after a year. This is my first I think since then for me. I am at about 16 months since my rupture. I think about it every day. I’m not back to normal despite a rigorous rehab. I can do most everything I could pre rupture.

But I am not back to normal. Not even close.

I can jog for miles no problem. I have done 10ks.

I can run. I can’t sprint.

I can jump. I can box jump very high. I can’t jump very well one legged. And my regular vertical is about 60% pre injury.

I can only do about 10 unilateral raises before fatiguing. And they are about half the height of the good leg.

My bad calf is about 70% the size of the good calf. I get more definition by the month I think, but the size is very slow to come.

Maybe all this just takes time. Maybe some of us never get it back.

I have been uber diligent - I am a very active guy. We will see.

1 year post rupture

January 27, 2017

One year since I’ve ruptured. Seems like forever ago

My tendon feels just fine. I still get post workout soreness. No pain. Get quite a bit of scar tissue cracking and snapping, as to be expected.

My calf has a long way to go. My uninjured side is 15.5″, the injured is 14.5″. That’s a full inch deficit. Mostly on the inner head of the calf

Since I have been doing more sprinting and launching off of my toes, explosiveness has gotten quite a bit better. Just in the last month. Lots of jump roping, stair work, box jumps, and sprinting/launching practice.

I have also been incorporating explosive motions into all of my weight routines lately. For my calves, I get on the leg press, set an appropriate weight, and try to “throw” the platform with my toes, alternating legs. A good weight to use is one where you can actually throw and catch the weight with where you’re not overly stretching or putting pressure on the tendon. If you can imagine going down in a slow, controlled regular calf press, then accelerating up and through the press motion.

This has helped immensely with getting some of the spring back that I have been missing since the injury.

I think I probably have another few months if not a year more to get back to where I was pre injury since I still have lingering soreness and lack a bit of strength. Some deficits will likely still exist even then. You look to athletes that this has happened to, and they have a lot of difficulty returning to pre injury form. Some can, most don’t. Studies show that most people have deficits well into two years, sometimes even six years.

Here’s hoping we get there.

11 months post surgery

December 27, 2016

Coming up on a year here fairly soon. It is basically a month until I had the rupture - surgery came a few days later.

The pros?

I have no issues jogging or running. I regularly run 3-4.5 miles 3-4 days a week with no issues. I am probably 80% on sprinting ability. I feel there is lots of improvement to be had here still. I can get up to 12mph on the treadmill, haven’t pushed much beyond that.

I am probably 80% on jumping - my good leg helps compensate. One legged jumping is still very weak though IMO. I can hop around no problem (one legged jump roping, four square drill, etc), but just don’t have the spring like the right. I can regularly hit 42″ on box jumps but still feel “laggy” and it’s not nearly as easy as it was pre injury.

I weigh 175 and I am doing around 240lbs on bilateral calf press at the moment. Usually rep that out to around 12, so could be going higher in weight - I’ve just been focusing on volume, as I pushed it up higher before and felt the tingly sensation I occasionally get in a very small spot in my tendon get a little prickly (didn’t feel right but also wasn’t quite painful) so backed off. Unilateral I am OK on 80-100 on the injured side, 160 on the good side. As I said there is compensation happening. I can obviously do more on the uninjured side.

I can play tennis, basketball, pickleball, softball, and golf - really all I have tried or been able to do since the injury in January 2016. Started up in a pickup bball league again and have not been pushing it too much but can definitely hang with the others.


I am not 100%, mentally or physically. But getting there. I still get some internal pulling sensations on the inside of the tendon in a small area probably no larger than an inch when heavy lifting and also after longer runs. Guessing the repair site where they tied off the suture. No pain, just a sensation. It does not feel like the  uninjured side. I’m still quite aware I had an injury there based on feeling alone.

My calf is probably at 60%-70% the strength of uninjured side just based on calf press ability alone. Two legged lifts are easy, one legged not so much.

Size leaves a lot to be desired but it is very slowly filling in with size and definition - the inner head of the calf has been REALLY tough to build even though I have been very diligent about PT and hitting it with all sorts of lifts constantly. I eat a very high protein diet (~75g from just supplements daily, probably another 80g from meats, poultry, fish, and other food sources.

Top range strength leaves a lot to be desired (all the way up on my toes). While my heel does not drop any longer when I shift from two feet up and go down on one, my SL raise is relatively weak and I can not get up on my toes like I can on the right.

I think I am overdue for another routine change at this point. I really need to stimulate that inner head of the calf and also work on explosive movements more. Restarted an interval training program earlier in the week. Incline sprints for bursts, then brief rest, then more sprints. This will help out.

It has been quite a journey. Within a year I feel like a day doesn’t go by where you don’t think about the injury and your progress. I have seen a few people at the gym rolling in on knee scooters, a few had Achilles ruptures, late 20s. All basketball. It’s fun talking about progress and giving them some hope, as everyone is very down in the beginning of this injury.

Hoping I can start to forget about feeling injured in the next couple of months. I’ll be posting until I feel 100% back to normal.

8 months, breakthrough

September 13, 2016

Skater jumps and lateral box shuffles. These pushed me through my latest plateau. If you’re not familiar, just YouTube them. They’re amazing recovery exercises.

I haven’t gone very far in terms of gains in the last month. Most of month 7 was spent backing off of running/jogging and focusing on lifting and strength. And despite my best efforts, I wasn’t really making any noticeable gains. I was very frustrated. Even contemplating whether I would ever regain normal function.

Well, this morning I awoke feeling energized. Like I had a lot of extra pep in my step. I went for an SL raise and just crushed it. Did a few more. Even sprang off of my toes a few times. Way more power, way more range than a few days prior. The last day I exercised was three days ago, doing 15+ sets of both skater jumps and lateral box shuffles along with a bunch of other plyos.

This marks yet another instance of really busting tail to propel myself out of a plateau. Interesting to note that it was not weight training that put me over the hump, but simply new movements that target the muscles in different ways. That is not to say one should avoid weights, but that it is absolutely imperative that you mix things up constantly.

I have been an advocate of that here time and time again, but I have this epiphany more times than I should, and it is easier than you think to stick to one set of lifts or exercises for 3-4 weeks at a time. Face it, Achilles rehab is boring.

I feel like I have a lot to work with and build from given my new range and power in single leg raises.

I have learned a lot over this journey.

Rest is imperative. At LEAST a day between any Achilles/leg days. I have powered through many rest days, and have seen mixed results, as calves ARE different than other muscle groups. I have broken through plateaus after a few days rest, but also just a day after a really intense session. Leading me to….

Mixing it up is a must. More often than you think might be necessary.

Calves are tough to grow. I’ve always had decent/nice calves for never really focusing on them that much in the gym. This rehab has been eye opening.

You’ll have ups and downs, big time, throughout your recovery.

This really does take about a year. I’m sure I’ll have more setbacks over the next four months. Despite feeling great today, I anticipate seeing more hang ups and plateaus. I feel good, can jog and run, but I am not back to normal.

Goals are very helpful.

8 months about (31 weeks)

September 6, 2016

Been about a month since I’ve posted. Quite honestly (and sadly), I don’t have much to report.

I have some concerns about my ability to regain pre injury strength levels in my calf. I have been working at this very diligently for 8 months now, and my calf size and strength leave a LOT to be desired. I am still missing a lot of depth in single leg raises, and I have been feeling stuck in a rut for the last month. I have been able to add weight to bilateral calf raises/press (my uninjured leg is taking up more slack), but not much on unilateral. It has been very, very slow.

I no longer have any morning stiffness or soreness what so ever. I am able to walk fluidly as well as jog and run fluidly. But I still don’t feel quite right. I know that feeling will abate around the year mark. The tendon is elastic but not like the uninjured side. I cannot yet sprint, and I cannot remotely cut or do much with quick lateral movements yet. I have some outer ankle tightness in most of my movements. I need to do more cutting exercises and movements.

I still do not have much unilateral spring off the ball of my foot. I have incorporated jump roping and have recently been focusing on high volume single leg jumping and hopping. Looking back to last week, I feel a little more springy from this now, but still a long way to go. This originally started with my quad doing most of the jumping/pushing with a bent knee. Very slowly I am transitioning to more of a jump off the ball of my foot.

Box jumps are easy breezy. I am able to hit 42″ but only for a few reps. 36″ I rep out to 12-15 per set and try to actually focus more on jumping down and landing on the balls of my feet as opposed to focusing on the actual jumping up motion.

Overall, if I was stuck like this the rest of my life, I could get by, but I would not be totally happy. I can run several miles without issue so that is a huge plus.

Competitively I feel about 70%, meaning I could probably play in local basketball or lacrosse leagues and get by with the 40 year olds + (I am 31).

I really wanted to return to normalcy by 9 months, but that just is not going to happen (I have hardly budged in a month’s time). In reality that is a rather high bar. I need to keep things in perspective and give myself another four months (that’s almost a half year) to accurately gauge where I’m at and reassess if I feel I had a successful recovery. At the same time, I can’t help but feel like something is wrong given how incredibly slow strength and size gains have come.

I’m sure others have felt the same way along this journey. I wonder if anyone else has had similar plateaus at the 7-8-9 month marks? My calf WILL NOT GROW.

All the best…

Week 27

August 8, 2016

Started a new lift toward the end of week 26. Smith machine, pull a bench over. Stack two 45s as foot platform. Unilateral seated calf raises, pressing the smith bar up. I did 8 sets of these on Friday and was really, really sore on Saturday. Golfed through the soreness. And on Sunday saw some bigtime gains in strength on the same lift and also in unilateral standing raises.

This lift is a really good, slow controlled motion that targets the soleus. Really enables total range of motion and squeeze. Up until this last week I had not really targeted the soleus  (I was always doing standing or straight-leg raises/presses) because I was stronger with my knees bent than straight leg on stability exercises (walking on toes), and I mistakenly assumed my soleus was stronger and neglected it. After one session targeting that portion of the calf, I feel immensely stronger. I’d encourage anyone who is currently building calf strength to do a combination of seated and standing raises - do not neglect the seated/bent-knee raise.

It’s been a few days since I’ve done any box jumping. I plan to try for 42″ today first thing in the gym. Last week I had the boxes stacked up and they looked intimidating. Not sure if I want to put that sort of stress on the tendon yet, but I need to just try it. I can pretty easily get up to 36″, but a lot of it is coming from form and just pulling my legs up. I think with maybe another week of high volume one-legged hopping/jumping, I’ll be more comfortable with trying 42″. But again, I need to get out of the comfort zone and go for it.

Running is still getting smoother and more natural as the tendon continues to loosen and get more elasticity and spring back. I’m able to run 5 miles pretty easily now, and have hit 6.

It seems like I am repeating myself in these posts now and their value to others might be diminishing. I will likely be taking a hiatus from posting until the 9 month mark, absent any other significant developments. Wishing everyone the best in their recoveries.

Week 26, Couple Weeks to Month 7

August 4, 2016

Time is really flying now. Month by month. Somewhat bizarre I’m approaching month 7 post-op.

To summarize the milestones I’ve hit thus far after surgery?

1 month/4 weeks - splint off in week 2, into Aircast/boot

2 months/8 weeks - tried walking in the house, no boot, around 5 weeks, ditched boot at 7 weeks; pool heel raises and walking since week 6; OK’ed to start stationary biking without boot at week 6 checkup

3 months/12 weeks - start of official PT - calf atrophied bad and needed to build strength back up before OK’ed

4 months/16 weeks - loss of limp, perhaps somewhere in the 17 week range; started jogging and stopped stationary biking

5 months/20 weeks - started minor jumping drills; burpees and weighted lunges; got the full unsupported SL heel raise if I recall correctly - STILL have lots of work to do here

6 months/24 weeks - was well into box jumps, one-legged jumping, other plyos; OK’ed for any exercises that don’t cause pain - entered what I felt to be a new “phase” of recovery: new elasticity, more spring returning to tendon/step, etc

Thus far, I haven’t had any pain, just post-workout soreness the next day, which naturally loosens up with more movement throughout the day. I have “heel drop” of a few centimeters if I go up on two, take away the support leg, and try to stand with my leg totally straight and heel raised. This will change with strength gains. This is my last major hang-up. It’s very frustrating how slow strength comes back despite working hard at it and ingesting mass amounts of protein.

My jogging/running stride is pretty fluid and natural at this point. So I’m very happy there. I’m able to rather easily run 4+ miles, and plan to do a 6 miler this week. My one-legged jumping/hopping is weak but getting better by the day. I don’t really feel any compensatory discomfort from running in my hips anymore. I had some knee soreness starting to develop a few weeks ago that has subsided.

Box jumps have been very fun and a good way to keep up my cardio and stamina. When I first started with 12″, it seemed like so much for the tendon (and seemed like it was actually difficult). The same for 24″, and on up to 36″. Now I am hitting around 10-12 reps on 36″ and I’m feeling good. 42″ is still a bit intimidating. I had the boxes stacked up the other day and figured I would give it a little more time. I set a goal to hit that sometime this week, so I might actually try it tonight or tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

Looking ahead, I have a LONG ways to go on calf strength, size, and stamina. My goals remain the same and I hope I mostly forget about the injury by month 9, but as I near month 7 I am beginning to realize it will truly take a year or more despite my best efforts. I have yet to measure my calves but I still have a noticeable deficit on the injured side (it’s all on the inside of the calf).

Overall I’ve had a relatively uneventful, slow, but smooth recovery. I have one final PT session scheduled for next week as somewhat of a baseline test/review of where I am now and to give me a general framework for where to go in the next months. I’ve also requested more Graston, as I have a bump of scar tissue over the repair site that’s been there all along that’s really just annoying to look at.

I have no plans to return to any basketball leagues until after the year mark. Man, that will be interesting getting back on the court at a competitive level. Many say they are hesitant for the first few outings, but then completely forget about the injury having happened after that. Hope I’m in the same boat!

Best to all else going through this long recovery.

Week 25

July 25, 2016

My calf has really been loosening up this last week, in addition to seeing more power and range in SL raises (still a long, long way to go there, though). I mentioned last week I felt I had entered a new “phase” in training and recovery. I still maintain that’s the case. I’ve turned up the volume on jumping drills, in addition to my targets for height.

The other week I took a leap of faith and attempted a 36″ box jump. I am now able to do around 10 reps of these in a row before fatiguing a bit. I am also doing 24″ for about 6 sets of 15+ reps on lifting days. Overall, I say I am in this new “phase” because it feels like everything is returning to feeling NATURAL, i.e. I don’t feel tightness, lack of spring, or lack of elasticity in the tendon when it is activated (mostly while jogging or running). Basically, things have become more fluid and I don’t have to try to have a normal running gait. I am still a little “off,” but I feel like this is more downhill than uphill at this point, so to speak.

I can’t really pinpoint what has allowed for this new elasticity, stamina, strength, and added top-range flexibility (on my toes). Most likely, it has all just compounded from focusing on doing everything on the balls of my feet, more often. When I do box jumps, I focus on rolling forward and launching off my toes. When I jog, I ramp up the speed every few minutes and run on the balls of my feet in increments.

I’ve added weight on lunges, and also volume on stairmaster on my toes. I’ve also started jump roping in one-minute increments with my feet together, in addition to more focused and controlled one-legged hopping. With hopping, I will do 20 hops side to side over a line, and then 20 hops front to back. 5 sets of these, and I do them in between box jump sets. These one-legged hops REALLY activate the tendon and calf, so I plan to add more volume and intensity here as a primary focus.

In all, it’s gotten easier and much more natural feeling to be up on my toes.  I still feel some compensation going on in my hips, and my knee on the injured side occasionally feels fatigued and sore (and also weak), but this has all gotten better and I’m no longer thinking about it the entire time I’m running/jogging.

Today marks 25 weeks basically, and will be adding more reps to the 36″ box jumps. I want to get this up to about 12 reps per set (for 6 sets) before I jump up to 42″ - loosen it up a bit more and get it used to the motion.  Hopefully by the end of the week I will be close to that. Who knows - I will probably try it sooner rather than later, though. Box jumps aren’t anything special - they’re more gimmicky than an indicator of strength or power. Anyone in Crossfit (who is honest) can tell you that box jumps are more about technique than they are strength. But they are fun and a way for me to get my heart rate going while putting the requisite force on my tendon and calf.

I still have a lot of strength to build to feel anywhere near comfortable doing things like sprinting or cutting while running. As noted before, I still have some heel drop when I jog stairs on my toes and try to push it on speed and intensity. I’ll see what my PT says in two weeks when I have my final meeting with him.

I’ve hit mostly all of my goals throughout this recovery. By the month 7 mark I would like to be able to competitively run a 10k. I plan to work on some distance running this and next week, aiming first for 4.6 miles then a 5 miler. After that, really it’s about returning my calf to normal size and strength, and then hopefully by month 9 completely forgetting about the injury. We’ll see how it goes!

I’ll post some more “form” videos of jumping and running when I get them uploaded.


Finished a 4.6 mile jog outside the other day - was surprisingly easy aside from a couple uphill stretches that strained my hips. My injured side hamstring is also a little sore. Going to aim for a 5 miler tomorrow. My jogging ability seems to be coming back exponentially since I hit the 6 month mark (which coincidentally was also when I started more intense box jump drills and hopping - these have definitely given me more spring). I’d say I feel probably 70-75% normal on the injured side (which is good, but it still feels “off” and I have a long way to go on strength and sprinting - not even strong enough to really try yet). Month 6 is shaping up to be a big one for progress and returning to relative normalcy.

Here’s a video at around the end of week 24 of me doing some box jumps and hopping. I’d encourage anyone who has the go-ahead from their surgeon/specialist to start on one-legged hopping/jumping drills. They really hit the tendon and calf in a good way.

6 month update (24 weeks)

July 19, 2016

Had my 6 month PT checkup today. Did some Graston, it was fantastic. I haven’t had this done for over a month (actually about 6 weeks). As you might imagine, in that time I developed new scar tissue. It was nice to break that up. PT also used some sort of tool on the scar itself and cleaned that up a bit - looks much better.

We did a few baseline tests. My PT checked my jogging stride, asked me to run, box jump, and do some unilateral raises. Everything looked great according to him, with the exception of my unilateral raise. I voiced my concern about possibly healing a little long and explained that I can’t get up on my toes as far as my right when doing unilateral.

He suggested it’s possible I healed long, but pretty unlikely. I have the same range going up on my toes as the uninjured side. This is a pretty typical hang-up for people, and he noted that it takes a long, long time to get that top range toe-up motion (while carrying your own weight) back. Sometimes, people don’t ever get it back. In the end, he chalked my situation up to lack of strength based on a few tests he did (he asked me to simply sit with my feet angled 90 degrees and roll up on my toes and plantarflex the balls of my feet into the ground as hard as I could. Since I could get my injured side up as high as the other, he concluded I have full range in my calf and I probably didn’t heal long). There is a definite hang-up I have here, where it feels like my foot/ankle has to get up past a certain point, and then it clicks/rolls into its highest point. I don’t know quite how else to describe it. The PT suggested that while I’m at my desk at work, to just plantarflex down (heel raise) while seated and focus on stretching my calf to the very top of that motion.

Otherwise the report card was good. I was told to keep doing whatever else I’m doing, in addition to more focus on that top range concentric unilateral. He also wants me doing more one-legged hopping (side to side, and front to back), and to always focus on being on the balls of my feet with toes pointed up to stimulate the calf more. If you try this on a BOSU ball, you’ll see instantly why pointing your toes up stimulates way more of your calf.

Stairmaster on toes, good.

Jogging stairs on toes, good.

Box jumping, good.

Lunges and burpees, good.

I’m noticing that jogging and running has become more comfortable and natural. The tendon isn’t as tight, I have a bit more spring, and the toll it’s taking on my left hip (and knee) is less.  I watched my 4 month jogging video earlier today and it was pretty funny seeing how ugly my stride was. I’ve since balanced out quite a bit and do not appear to have an injury (though I am still feeling a bit off). Same goes for jumping. The change over time is really amusing to watch.

I am to call the PT back in 2 weeks after my 6 month surgeon checkup where I’ll have a strength test. At that point I’ll (hopefully) get the official green light to engage, incrementally of course, in full-on ballistic plyometric training.

Here’s a video from this evening. Running 5mph, 9mph, and 12mph. It really is amazing to see how much my stride has changed in two months. That’s a long time, but this is a long recovery. I ran for 30 minutes straight tonight, 6mph cruise with 8mph one-minute bursts every three minutes. By far the most aggressive running I’ve done yet. I am very happy with how my stride is improving and the running is feeling more NATURAL. Strangely enough, it actually feels a bit more fluid and natural when I run at a faster pace (8+mph) as opposed to my typical 6mph jog. Not sure why that is. Perhaps my body is forward more and I’m up on the balls of my feet at faster speeds. But I’m a heel-strike runner so IDK.

I’m also noticing more every day that size and shape are coming back, albeit very slowly, to the injured leg. Here’s to hoping that with increased jogging distances and general workout intensity, this will start to take off!

All the best.


My surgeon just wrote me and said I have the green light to engage in any training I want as long as it’s not painful. He has no worries about my perceived (and real) lack of strength in unilaterals at this point. Simply something I’ll have to work on in the coming months (and years). I can still sense some “heel drop” when I try to launch off of my toes or if I’m running stairs on my toes and try to spring, so will definitely need to stay cautious there (and will ease into sprinting, etc in the next few months).

Otherwise, feeling pretty great right now, mentally, and physically. The intense treadmill session from the other day, coupled with the seated flexibility toe-up exercises have really pushed my recovery into another phase. Going to keep tacking on distance and speed to my runs. Will keep updating as things progress.

Week 23

July 11, 2016

Basically at six months here now, got another week. Have a long ways to go, but have made some pretty decent progress. I think that in three months of more intense training, I can get mostly back to where I was pre-injury (by month 9). Probably won’t feel injury-free by then, but can aim high. I read about some others’ experiences with this recovery and feel blessed that I’ve not had any major setbacks or roadblocks. It’s been immensely helpful and inspiring reading the blogs of folks like Jayli, Beanie, and numerous others.

I fully expect things to “take off” along with the exponential ramping up of training, i.e. more intense plyometrics. Will be interesting to see what my PT tells me to start doing next week and over the next several weeks. I’ve tested the waters with some agility ladder drills, light one-legged hopping, and squat thrust jumping/box jumps, and seem to tolerate them quite well. I still definitely lack the spring that I”m looking for on the injured leg, but that’ll come back.

Going to continue onward with a focus on:

  • Weighted lunges
  • Stairmaster interval walking on toes
  • Jogging up and down stairs on toes
  • Burpees
  • Up on two, down on one, holding a dumbbell now on the injured side and adding weight incrementally
  • Box jumps
  • Jump rope
  • Top range squeeze in unilateral calf press movements

Just this morning I noticed while looking down that the deficit (complete lack of muscle) on the inside of my calf is less than it was the week previous. There is some muscle coming back, in addition to definition, finally.

My scar is looking a little rough. It’s totally healed and nothing’s wrong with it, it’s just how my skin is. The scar is something I’ll just have to deal with. Might get a creative Achilles-related tattoo to cover it.

Setting goals for myself has been very motivating. And again I’ve based a lot of these on the progress of other bloggers here who are also athletes. I’ve met all of my goals so far, but missed the SL raise by a week or two. Oh well!

Goals going forward:

  • 36″ box jump by 7 months - that leaves me 5 weeks, I’m able to do 24″ now
  • Run 15mph by 6 months - made 12 last week
  • Add 2cm to the top range of my heel raise by 7 months - I actually have no idea what this measurement is right now so should probably check it for a benchmark
  • Equal dorsiflexion by 7 months - almost there now but this fluctuates day-to-day honestly
  • Equal calf size by 8 months
  • Feel injury-free by 10 months - that is 4 months from now, a LONG time


Below is a clip of me doing some light box jumping at the 21 week/just past 5 month mark. I am now in week 23, closing in on month 6, and can jump up to two of those boxes. Will edit again once I get less lazy with uploading media.

Double Edit:

Here is a clip of me doing 24″ and 36″ box jumps during week 23. I was feeling pretty elastic and loose at the start of my session in the gym so I figured I would give 36″ a shot, just to see if I could do it. Took the leap of faith, literally. Figured if I didn’t try now, I would make excuses throughout the remainder of my recovery. For that session, just the once will have to do. Incremental, incremental, incremental.