Week 1 - questions, equipment and diet

I spent most of Week 1 on the couch at home. After my first ATR, I found I was very tired and slept a lot during the first week. This time around, I’ve had more energy but I have forced myself to rest as much as possible. I was able to get out of the house a few times - there is nothing like sitting in the sunshine at the beach to lift the spirits!

Beach

Questions

When I ruptured my left Achilles I had so many questions, but of course my number one question was "Should I be having surgery?". In New Zealand, ATRs are generally treated conservatively. While some hospital-based specialists still recommend using a cast for up to 8 weeks (avoid them!), most specialists now recommend an early weight bearing conservative protocol. The details of the protocol used in New Zealand are here: https://www.axissportsmedicine.co.nz/patient-information/achilles-tendon-rupture/ . The AchillesBlog website contains plenty of links to studies demonstrating the effectiveness of conservative ATR treatment. As my left Achilles healed well without surgery, I had no concerns about following this protocol again. Surgery is hard on the body and has risks, so why do it if it doesn’t have better results?

This time around, my number one question was "Why am I so unlucky?". Again, I turned to the AchillesBlog website. Research suggests that 6% of ATR patients will experience a contralateral ATR (see https://www.researchgate.net/publication/8919074_Contralateral_tendon_rupture_risk_is_increased_in_individuals_with_a_previous_Achilles_tendon_rupture ). Personally, I had previously experienced tendonitis in my right Achilles, so I knew I had some pre-existing degeneration in that leg. I also have a family history of Achilles issues. I returned to a high level of training, whereas I expect a number of ATR patients reduce their level of participation in sport compared to their pre-ATR levels. Finally, in the 4 days before my injury I did an intense leg workout at the gym and ran a 15 km race. All in all, those factors clearly outweighed the rehabilitation work I did on my right leg when recovering from my left ATR.

Equipment

There are some critical pieces of equipment that I recommend getting as soon as possible:

Shower chair - I recommend a stool rather than a chair as its less cramped in the shower. This shower stool was $40 - ordered online and delivered in one day.

Shower chair

Shower cover - I used a simple bin bag and duct tape after my first ATR. This time, I invested in a reuseable cast cover - it certainly makes showering easier and is nicer on my skin!

Shower cover

Chair with wheels - you can get all sorts of equipment (through ACC in New Zealand), however the humble office chair is very useful - at least initially - as most people have one available. I use it for cooking, washing dishes and carrying items between rooms.

Chair

Diet, pain killers and supplements

For both ATRs, I have chosen to increase my intake of fruit and vegetables, and remove all processed foods, alcohol and caffeine from my diet. I have also chosen to use painkillers minimally, as there is some (mixed) evidence that they inhibit recovery.  With my left ATR, I chose to take a multi-vitamin and have a protein shakes daily. With my right ATR, I have chosen to add collagen, turmeric, fish oil, and glucosamine/chondroitin supplements. (Of course, there is mixed evidence of the value of supplements, so do your own research).

Supplements

A useful series on nutrition for injury recovery is here: http://www.precisionnutrition.com/nutrition-for-injury-recovery-infographic

3 Responses to “Week 1 - questions, equipment and diet”

  1. Great read.
    I am currently on week 4 after the injury.
    I’m struggling with this injury for the first time so I admire you for your strength since this is your second rupture.

    My diet has been very healthy since my injury.
    I’ve been taking vitamin C tablets as that also contains collagen. Eating a lot of fruits, vegetables, meats and nuts too. Also drinking plenty of water so I hope this all helps the body.

  2. Mattypicks - hang in there, the rehab gets more interesting around that stage as you start to see real progression! Yes, it’s a good point about drinking lots of water. Hopefully the body is flushing out plenty of damaged tissue!

  3. I started walking in the cam-boot without the crutches on the Saturday that just went by so I am pretty happy right now.
    Goodluck to your recovery.

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