It has been now 45 weeks (October 2014) since I ruptured my achilles.
After going through the whole process, things are just where they are supposed to be today and I can feel that my injured leg is stronger than before. When doing sports, I do not feel that there was a surgery.
I have ran two triathlons this summer (Geneva and Nyon) and was able to run faster than last year. In terms of running, I am back to my pre-injuries best times on 5K and 10K. I do at least 2 fartleks trainings a week with zero constraints.
What I have learnt from the injury is to spend more time on stretching before and after training, listen much more to my body, especially when I feel tired for whatever reason, I avoid pushing it too far.
For those in early stage of the injury, keep up a positive attitude, be patient and be thorough in your re-hab process because it is worth it. Do not try to skip steps, the key to a good re-hab is patience.
This community has been of great help and support and I take this opportunity to thank you all, especially the ones in my timeline that will recognize themselves…!
Closing with an ATR fun fact: I ruptured my achilles at the same time than pro skier Aksel Lund Svindal, and closing this blog on the same week than Switzerland pro skier Beat Feuz ruptured his achilles…
Today I had the 6 months (approx) appointment with both OS and sports doc. They concluded that everything was excellent and that I was no longer required to do formal PT (of course, will continue to do on my own a number of exercises such as pliometrics, proprioception etc in order to strenghen the posterior chain and all stabilization muscle in the ankle. Next meeting with OS is in 6 months for a routine check.
The journey is obviously not over. For some reason, I have the 12 months mark in my mind and in the meantime I will continue on the same path, i.e. very cautious and listen to my body much more than I used to do prior injury. I have to continue to avoid for a while to run on steep slopes and should refrain, again for a few months from now, explosive type of activities such as squash (both according to OS).
Next deadline is Geneva’s triathlon early July! Looking forward to it!
I want to thank this amazing community! The journey was mostly a smooth ride for me but this community has certainly been amazing and truly helpful all along the way. It was great to exchange with all of you, read all those success stories and share with others that were in similar timlines than mine. I am really thankful to all of you.
Good luck everyone!
I have not posted since quite a while as there was nothing particular to report. I am now at 24 weeks, life is back to normal since quite a while but recently I took a trip to Asia (Cambodia and Bangkok) and I have some interesting observations.
First, the heat on the first two days was not a friend to the swelling. I am not sure it is a combination of long haul flight or just heat, but when I arrived in Cambodia, I had some swelling that took 2 days to disappear. Then I am super happy because we did a LOT of walking (more than 10k per day), sometimes in sneakers sometimes in flip flops, and no tendon related issues. I was under the impression that all the work done previously has paid off nicely. I continue to have a strange gait when I wake up. The first ten minutes out of bed I have a limp and then it goes away. Of course, a super long day of walking/visiting/standing up is not helping my morning issue but not increasing either.
Went to Wat Po in Bangkok where they have a massage school to have a one hour foot/leg massage (link here). Geeze, this was the best ever massage on legs I have ever had. I had the feeling that it was equivalent to 10 PT sessions. The masseur gave me such a deep calf massage, after all the walking we did, I felt like I had a brand new calf!! I strongly recommend it!!
All in all, I am super happy with the recovery timeline. For those unfamiliar, I was on a slow protocol and now at 6 months, I have no clue if I am ahead or behind anyone else, I just feel I am exactly where I am supposed to be. I have gained enough confidence to do anything I want and gained enough wisdom to listen much more to the signs my body is sending. Would not go as far as to say that this injury is positive, but most of it can be turned into something positive!
Also, I have started to train seriously for triathlon this summer. I will go easy on distance and stick to short distance this summer, I want to make sure to put forward the fun factor and don’t want to jeopardize all the work done.
Good luck everyone and keep up the good work!
bonus… a pic from Angkor
Quick update on 18 weeks mark (is it a real mark by the way?)…
Up until now, it has been a smooth ride. I keep going to PT once a week, but we chitchat a lot and he keeps on doing deep muscle massage. 100% of the recommended exercises can be done at home, waiting the bus, walking to get a sandwich, so I find this injury quite easy in the sense that you do not need heavy PT machinery to get it done. For example, when going to work, I do a bit of the walk by pushing very hard on toes for approx. 200meters. Also, I do a lot of balance exercises such as standing on one leg (injured one) and look up/right/down, play with a ball, lose balance on purpose and try to get it back. I find that 10/15 minutes per day of it is super-efficient.
Single heel raise at approximately same height than non-injured leg. I am able to do it since 2 weeks now approximately and I just found by accident that I was able to do it when I was looking to grab something in the kitchen that was elevated. Walking on toes on both legs is also something I do quite a lot – very helpful to build strength.
In terms of sports, I can run but I am avoiding long runs, I have been to do short runs around 3km at a reasonable pace of 6min/km. I am only running when I am feeling super good. Swimming is of course a non-issue and biking, well, it’s too cold outside so I am only using my home trainer. At first, I was placing the middle of the foot on the pedal to minimally use the calf muscle, and gradually I started to push more and more with the toes, which uses different muscles, and especially calf related muscles. Did also some crossfit workouts, but I am very careful on the load on back/front squats. I am avoiding deadlifts and any explosive type of movements such as snatch, box jumps and rope. Will not play squash until a few more months I think.
About the size of the calf, it is regaining a nice shape and strength. Of course I can still feel that my injured side is not as strong as the other one. For example, yesterday I did some rowing and this morning my injured leg is quite tired.
I have also observed that the general mood/fatigue level has a great impact on my leg. Feels like my leg becomes lazy when I am tired. But I think this is actually very good as I am learning to listen even more to my body now. This applies of course also to PT. Whenever I feel tired for a particular reason; I rest my leg and do not overcharge it with exercises.
All in all, I am very happy with the outcome and pace of the recovery. Tomorrow I have an appointment with a sport doctor who works in the same practice than my surgeon and PT, and we will discuss the next steps.
Good luck everyone!
Following Donna’s initiative, I am including my own timeline in this post as well as week 13 update.
On the update first, things are moving in the right direction. I am now able to squat (body weight) with same magnitude as before. Losing the limp a little bit more every day but it is noticeable. After more than 10 weeks on crutches, I have some back pain, most likely the body has been compensating, so doing some exercises to relief the stress and pain in the back, but all in all this is minor.
In terms of workout, I am using my home trainer every day now. At first, I was pedalling with the middle of the foot, which makes very little use of the calf section muscles, but now I am pedalling with the toes and I can clearly feel that the calf is working here. I started to swim again after x-mas, and it’s all fine when in the swimming pool. For now, I am focusing all the workout on the lower body part as my goal is to regain strength in the calf and be able to regain propulsion. I am also using electrostimulation at home, but not on the injured calf (not allowed yet). Seems to be helpful, but obviously I do not have sufficient data so far.
The typical heel lift is still difficult, I mean I cannot do it on the injured leg only. On both legs it’s fine, but not fully body weight on the injured leg. I am patient here, so no worries for now.
Going to PT twice a week, but not really motivated. A lot can be done on your own if you are rigorous. I will keep going anyway.
My timeline and milestones is the following:
- ATR on a Friday, full rupture at crossfit
- Surgery next Friday, using achillon technology
- 4 weeks in fiberglass cast, NWB, 100% at home Spent most time potatoe couching…
- Cast was changed from 30 degrees to 15 on week 4
- 4 weeks PWB in a cast
- Cast removed at week 8 post surgery
- Moved directly into 2 shoes, with 2 crutches
- Ditched 1 crutch after 10 days
- Ditched last crutch after 5 more days, on Christmas eve…
- Since then, home trainer, swimming, walking etc
- PT started on week 11
- Today life seems to be back to normal…
ATR fun fact: Aksel Lund Svindal, Norwegian pro-downhill skier suffered ATR exactly one week after me. He is considering racing February the 3rd….
Some random thoughts…
For those unfamiliar with my profile: classic ATR, achillon surgery, 2 months in a cast (4 weeks NWB followed by 4 weeks PWB) plus another 10 days or so with crutches after the cast. Sport enthusiast & triathtlete (was training 6-8h per week or so before injury).
I have started using my home trainer since this weekend, and everytime I end my short session, I feel super confident in the future and it’s like a rebirth. The feeling to wear my workout gear, turn on my cardio watch and get on this bike is just amazing and it reminds me from where I am coming, and that 2 months ago, I was coming out of the hospital, in pain, and worried about what will go on.
My point is that whatever we do, being ditching crutches, taking a shower without a chair, going down steps on two feets etc, it looks minor from the outside, but for all of us, we are lucky because we are experiencing a “first time” pretty much everyday!! Agree that all those steps are small, but I keep looking in the rear mirror to see the journey that has been done so far and that makes me smile. I know that tomorrow will be filled with another “first time” and I can’t wait to be tomorrow while strongly enjoying today! This amazing feeling makes me think that we are all super heroes!!
All those small steps are huge for us and we should not minimize our progress, be proud of every improvement as the sum of all those improvements will most likely bring us back to full normalcy! I always tend to think that the mind drives the body and vice versa, and since our bodies are not 100% yet, being super positive every day and seeing the bright side of things will certainly help greatly.
There is a saying I like very much that, I think, fits quite well all of us:
IT NEVER GETS EASIER, YOU JUST GET STRONGER!
With that said, wish you all Happy Holidays!
I am in week 11 now, cast has been removed just a little bit more than 2 weeks away and I have to say that things are moving quickly.
The first few days after cast removal have been tough. My tendon felt like it was made in iron, no flexibility at all and heel was super sore. Soreness in the heel was gone after 2 days of barefoot walking (with 2 crutches) at home. At day 3, I started to try walking with one crutch and it went quite easy I must say. Of course I was limping, but it was great to be a little bit more autonomous with one hand free now! I started to walk barefoot at home as soon as my cast was removed. I wanted to make sure to “wake up” my foot. It was not fun at beginning but I have a feel it was what I needed.
Yesterday I have been driving (atr at right leg, manual car) and it was just fine. This weekend I aslo officially ditched my crutches as I am now walking crutch free all day long. No pain at all, heel is fine and I can see everyday that the tendon is gaining flexibility. To echo I think what Donna said, some improvements are tiny, so it’s better to look over several days but I have to say that I am impressed how fast it’s going. I am sure it will most likely plateau sometime, but at least the trend keeps positive. I am wearing a compression sock (2xu) all day long and swelling is almost inexistant now.
In terms of PT, I am doing at home flexions, circles etc. dorsiflexion on injured leg is nearly the same than on the ok leg. I am also using a ball to roll my foot just to wake up all nerves, veins etc. I do a lot of toes curl, trying to grab a pen. Can grab a large pen not a small one for the time being… I still cannot do squats properly but getting very close to it. I had two PT sessions so far. Not very happy with my PT but I feel that I can do most of it by my own, not sure they are very helpful…
Yesterday I started using my home trainer, did 15 minutes at 200W, it was great. I am plan to use it now 3 times a day. This week I will also go back into the swimming pool, can’t wait! Just need to remind to be super gentle when pushing at the end of the pool…! and watch out on the wet tiles!
Calf is still weak, will start calf specific workouts in a week or so I guess. But I am not worried about it.
All in all, I am super confident that I’ll be up and running for the summer triathlon season, so all good so far. I am not a huge risk taker when it comes to health, so I continue to take it slow and gradual, will not skip steps.
Happy holidays everyone and remember to take it easy, it gets better!
Great day today!!
Not only today is an historical event for Geneva (Switzerland) called L’Escalade when, 4 centuries ago, the great people of Geneva defeated the cowardly people of France (Haute Savoie to be exact) who decided to attack our town in the middle of night while everyone was asleep. Popular story tells that a Lady, called Lady Royaume (which means Kingdom) threw some boiling vegetable soup on the face of french soldiers. At this time of the year, everyone in town breaks a pot of chocolate full of marzipan vegetables in the memory of Lady Royaume. The oldest person breaks it with the younger. Kids celebrate this event by wearing a disguise and go around in the city singing typical songs about L’Escalade in french and in old french.
For those interested:
Typical chcoloate pot:
But today, on a tendon side, is exactly 9 weeks post injury, 8 weeks post surgery and fibercast glass removal!! YAY!
Nothing to say in particular, just super happy and wanted to share! Doc told me that I have to be careful and continue to use crutches over the next 10 days at least as the tendon remains fragile. Will continue to be super careful.
Happy healing and as we say in Geneva: Thus perish the ennemies of the Republic! (usually it means also: let’s eat chocolate!!)
Today I am in the middle of week 6 post op and I had the last appointment to change the angle in my fiberglass cast. From 15 degrees to close to zero now in PWB.
At the opposite of the last time, changing the angle was a piece of cake today, probably my sweet tendon is enjoying the stretching of the PWB phase since the last 10 days.
Next deadline is in 20 days, 8 weeks post op exactly, to remove the cast and go home in two shoes!! Once the cast will be removed, I will have a period of 10 days (approx) with 2 crutches, and then 5 days with only one to finally ditch them! And physical therapy will start 3 weeks after removal of the cast. Can’t wait to start using my home trainer.
This injury is quite a journey…
Today is exactly week 4 post-op and week 5 post-injury. I had an appointment at the Clinique to change the angle in the cast. I was moved from an initial 30 degrees to now 15 degrees. I have another appointment in 10 days to change the angle to 5 degrees and finish my 8 weeks in the cast at this angle. The pain was quite hard. I was helping by trying to stretch my foot as much as I could but the doctor was also pressing in order to bring it to the desired angle. Aside from the pain, the feeling is strange.
The surgeon dropped by to say hello, he said he was super happy with the healing so far, which was good news as far as I can tell.
Now I am allowed for PWB. Will start trying tomorrow as this afternoon I have the feeling my foot has been crushed by an elephant and all movements are painful. Hopefully the night will help.
The scar is still super small and super clean. No stitches to be removed which is great. Swelling is close to inexistent so far, except during the evening after dinner. Comes like a swiss clock! Amazing!
Came back to work this week, it was quite good. Time flies a little bit faster when you are in the office. I have been working from home since day one, but it’s not the same, discipline is different at home, I felt it was harder to stay focus long hours.
On a side note, just bought a home trainer (Elite Qubo digital) for my bike. Looking forward to being able to start using it! Good thing about this injury is that you got a great excuse to buy some gadgets… Next one on my list is a Compex… Anybody has experience with compex ( for recovery? PT told me it’s a good way to help the recovery.