16+ week follow up.

Man, it’s been quite awhile since i’ve checked in here. Just a quick update. I am a little over 16 weeks post ATR surgery. I walk in 2 shoes w/o any noticeable limp. First thing in the AM mt AT is very tight and I have a slight limp, but this goes away fast during the day. This past month I have begun short runs… 1 mile at a time. Feels wierd to run as my bad AT is very tight and feels odd, but the running is getting easier. I have been back in the gym for quite a while now. Have been able to hit my legs pretty hard: doing almost 900lbs leg press (I was at 1100 before the injury). I can pretty easily do a 2 legged leg raise, but still am unable to do 1-legged w/the bad leg. For those of you who are this far or further, how long did it take you to be able to do a 1-legged raise?

It’s been awhile: 13 weeks post surgery

i recently realized that it’s been quite awhile since i have checked in.  this is mostly d/t the fact that i’ve been back at work for 5 weeks now, back on my feet, and therefore life has been MUCH busier lately, esp. w/the holidays.  at my 8 week post op was ok’d to start walking in 2 shoes and weening myself out of the boot… it probably took me 2 weeks or so to be done w/the boot.. i was still wearing it at work and also when i went to the gym.  i’m basically walking w/o a limp (when in shoes).. still have a pretty good limp in the AM when the AT is very tight, and also when barefoot.  at my 8 week appt the MD told me still no running or jumping for 2 more months, which i’m trying hard to follow, though it’s been hard as i really feel like my tendon is very strong and that it could probably stand up to the force from running, but last thing i want to do at this point is reinjure myself, so i’ll just try to be patient.  anyways, it’s funny looking back at when i first injured myself and what i was going through back then, to what things are like now.  my life’s basically back to “normal” other than i’m not playing any sports or anything… still hitting the gym 3 days a week for weights and also an hour of swimming each time.  the swimming has really been such a great thing in my recovery IMO and as i’ve said before, i would encourage ANYONE to get in the pool as soon as your doc OKs you too.  i have experienced NO ill effects from swimming, and it’s such good cardio.  for awhile i was worried about “healing long” but from what i understand from reading on this site, i should be out of the woods for that danger so will probably start stretching a little more agressively as i’d really like to try and get it loosened up. 

oh, after trying to get my doc to give me a referral for PT a # of times, and each time having him saying i really don’t need it,  i decided he might actually be right and began rehabbing it on my own.  the only thing i can’t do at this point is a one-legged heel raise..i can do 2 legged now, but feel as if i am FAR from 1 legged… oh well, something to work on.

Week 9 update and exercise efforts.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I last wrote.  I am now 9 weeks post-op, have been FWB in boot for the past 3 weeks and man does it feel good to be making progress.  I can still remember the first couple of weeks were very rough and I was very emotional and overwhelmed about this whole process.  This blog has been of so much help and support in my recovery, and though I know I still have a long way to go, I already feel that I have come so far.  The boot is GREAT…especially when going from a hard “walking” cast” the boot is SO much easier to walk in and so much more comfortable.  Like so many on this site, I am a VERY active person.. i’d probably go as far as to say that, if such a thing existed, i would consider myself to be addicted to exercise… this was the hardest part of the first couple of weeks (esp. the NWB period which was 4 weeks for me).  I remember going absolutely STIR crazy during those first 4 weeks. 

Because many have asked about exercise timelines, etc. here is a brief recap of mine.  Pls fee free to comment and especially let me know if you feel there is anything I am doing that may hamper my recovery. 

I was back in the gym doing some upper-body weights 1 week post-surgery (curls, bench, etc.).  This first workout felt VERY good, but also was very tough/tiring.    Looking back, I would now say that I wish I had waited until at LEAST the 2 week mark to get back to the gym as I ended up being in a cast 2 weeks longer than was previously planned d/t one spot on my incision not heeling completely at the 4 week mark: I am thinking this was partially due to me sweating in the cast, causing the area to stay somewhat moist, thus impeding the healing. 

From the 1 week mark on, I was in the gym 1-2xs/week doing upper-body work (I would bring someone w/me to help put weights on/take them of, etc. since I was NWB).  At this point my incision was completely healed, so I started working out 2xs/week with more intensity.   

Once I was put into the boot at week 6, I began driving myself around (though boot was on my right/driving foot I found it VERY easy to drive w/the boot on).  From week  6 on to current, I have been working out for 2 hours, 3xs/week mostly upper body, though I have also been riding the stationary bike for 10 or so mins at a time w/fairly high “tension” (bike on 16 on a 1-20 scale).  I have also been swimming for 45 mins/day, 5day/week and I have found this to be THE most helpful activity I have done. 

For any interested, I really did not lose much of my upperbody strength at all.  For instance, before the injury I was able to do 120lb dumbell presses on a flat bench (max: 3 sets of 4 to 5 reps).  My first workout 1 week post op the max I could do was 80lbs in each arm (mostly d/t the fact that I was NWB and couldn’t even get them up to my bench to lift.  3 weeks post-op I was up to 100lbs in each arm, and yesterday at 9 week post op and FWB in a boot, I was able to do a set of 120s in each arm for 1 set of 4 reps… so it definitely does come back which was one of my fears when this first happened as I LOVE working out. 


So anyways, there it is.  Please let me know if you have any comments/questions/feedback.    I guess the purpose behind this post/entry is to instill some hope to those who are newly ATR that things DO definitely get better, but that those first 2-4 weeks are very important to try and lay low… the return to activity comes sooner rather than later.

healing long question…

… i just realized that i don’t really know how you are able to tell if you are healing long.  also, is there a certain timeline for this risk (ie. does it happen during the first 4 weeks?  first 6 weeks? first 10 weeks?   since reading about this danger a couple of weeks ago, i’ve really been trying to be careful w/how much i stretch my ATR foot and am just wondering how much longer i need to be wary of this and how someone knows if they are healing long.  can anyone help me out?

Swimming fan…

so at 7 weeks post op, decided to begin working on getting my cardio back so began swimming at my gym yesterday and again today. i was a little worried at first about how my achilles would handle this and whether i could hurt myself further by doing this, but started slow/gently and eventually got more comfortable. yesterday after swimming for 30 mins or so (not non-stop obviously) got home and was pleasantly surprised to see that the swelling was WAY down (for the preceeding 4 days my foot had been more swollen than it’s been during this whole process and had gotten my a little worried. also noticed that my ROM was much better after swimming, and went again today for about 45 mins… i would HIGHLY recommend swimming to anyone trying to rehab their achilles… seems that there is fairly low-risk to damaging your AT while swimming, unless i’m missing something. can anyone think of any reasons why swimming would be counter-indicated?

2 shoes aids question?

Have been in boot for 1 week and have been slowly trying to graduate myself into 2 shoes.  was thinking of ways to help make this a gradual process.  has anyone tried using any sort of “achilles brace” or even a soft ankle-brace/wrap or anything like that when first going to 2 shoes to help give a little more support for your foot?     also, i know that some people wear some sort of heel wedges in either the boot or 2 shoes… has anyone used any “homemade” heel wedges?  i don’t know how much these cost, but am always looking for ways to save a little $ if i can make something similar at home.  does anyone have an experience w/either of these?

Another stretching/walking question

Earlier this week I had posted/asked a question whether I should stretching (using my own strength to flex it upwards while lying down, not pulling on it or anything)… I know there were some who feel that this might not be a great idea d/t the risk of “healing long.”    Another follow up question relates to the stretching of the tendon in the “normal” walking motion.  It seems when you take a stride with your “good” foot, you are putting some strain on the achilles of your “bad” leg, and same with when you push off.  In a walking cast, or even the boot, this motion is fairl protected and limited, though when walking without either, you are without this protection and the stretch of the step w/most of your body weight is fairly significant… is it better to “stretch” the tendon when progressing to 2 shoes by taking slow, deliberate  steps vs. doing some active stretching to “prepare” it for walking?   How have others done this?  When going to 2 shoes, is it best to start using crutches again to help absorb some of the impact/strain?

Very unsupportive doctor?/Pls Advise…

Am currently 7 weeks post-op: am FWB since week 4, first in walking cast for 2 weeks, now in boot for 1 week. I am having some issues w/my doctor in that I am finding him pretty unsupportive and, in some ways, down-right dismissive. For example, the easiest way for me to get ahold of him is to send him an email/online message… naturally, since this is my first (and hopefully only) time going through this, I have had a lot of questions for him, and have probably sent him a msg/question maybe every 3 days or so.  However, at my first post-op appt he made the comment to me “so many emails, i should give you a limit” in a semi-joking way, though I knew there was some seriousness to his comment.  Then, this past week I asked him the same question I had posed here, as far as stretching/flexing my foot upwards towards my body to “stretch” the tendon: his actual response, verbatim was “(my last name) use common sense.  If it hurts, STOP.  When in doubt, don’t do it.”  Now maybe i’m reading too much into his response, but I felt pretty dimissed by this response.  Basically, the effect this has had on me is that I feel that I can’t really ask him any questions, as hey all seem to annoy him, but naturally I just want to make sure i’m doing the right thing and not doing anything to hamper my recovery.  Long story short, I’m not sure how i’m going to handle this… am trying to let it “sit” before I decide how to respond.  This is the same doctor who has now twice, in response to my requests for a referral to physical therapy, told me “the vast majority of pts don’t need PT.”  So, I basically feel that I’m in this alone and just kind of “winging it” though am very greatful for this forum/blog as it is really my only form of guidance through all of this, so thank you all.

Has anyone else been told that they did not need any physical therapy?  My doctor has basically told me “walking normally in the boot is the best kind of activity you can do.”

One thing i’ve noticed that i’m somewhat worried about is that last night (i’m basically 7.5 weeks post op) I noticed quite a bit of swelling in my lower leg, and especially my “bad” foot.  There is nothing that I did all that differently yesterday so I’m not quite sure what to make of this.  I’ve been trying to keep my leg elevated and iced today and that seems to have brought the swelling down somewhat, but it’s still much more swollen than I’m used to.  Is this sort of  “spontaneous swelling” something that others have experienced?  At what point should I become concerned?

Week 6: da boot!

Finally, had my 3rd post-op appt at 6 weeks (have been FWB in a fiberglass walking cast for the past 2 weeks) and was able to convince the doctor to give me the boot… i was THRILLED to get out of that damn walking cast… 6 weeks of immobilization was beginning to drive me mentally and physically crazy.  Doctor says he wants me in the boot for at least 3 more weeks, though i think i’m going to try walking in 2 shoes after 2 weeks or so just to help w/the overall strength of that leg/ankle.  a couple of questions that i’d like some help with: 1) i’ve been reading a lot about the dangers of “healing long” and how stretching too soon/too vigorously seems to be one of the factors in this…can anyone tell me the difference between passive vs active stretching.  i’ve been trying to improve my ROM by doing some slow movements w/my foot, and also been trying to “stretch” the tendon out a bit by just fexing my foot upwards while i’m laying down… is this something i should avoid? 

also, how many of you “cheated” once in the boot.. meaning, at what point did you go from the boot to attempting to walk in 2 shoes?  by NO means do i want to rush things along too quickly and risk reinjuring myself, but i also would like to be able to begin walking some in 2 shoes as soon as i can.  right now my “bad” foot/leg still feels very wierd when i try “walking”on it w/o the boot… actually, it’s the same “walking downhill” sensation i had when i initially ruptured it (putting the injured foot on the ground feels as if that foot is walking downhill).. did anyone else have this experience?  i just want to know if this is fairly “normal” or if it is something i should be concerned about. 


as always, thanks in advance for any input/answers, and i wish you all safe healing.


… one more thing that i forgot to add to my previous entry.  though  i know this might sound crazy, i had a very odd/troubling experience the other night where i woke up in the middle of the night and suddenly was feeling very anxious and restless in my injured/right leg and feeling a great need/urge to be able to bend that foot/ankle and not liking the feeling of it being constrained.. this seemed odd to me as it’s not like this cast is new, and i’ve been casted for the past 5 weeks.   however, this episode was very troubling as it felt as if i was very close to having a nervous breakdown/panic attack and was having this overwhelming urge to tear/cut my cast off of my foot.  This “episode” lasted for approximately 2-3 hours though i eventually was sort of able to calm myself down by doing some deep breathing/distracting myself by watching TV, but still ended up having what I can only describe as a “low level anxious” feeling the rest of the day.  Thankfully I did not experience anything of the sort last night, so not sure if it was just an isolated thing or something that might come back.  I’d like to consider myself a pretty “mentally/emotionally sound” person who has no history of significant anxiety/panic attacks or any other mental/emotional issues, and I actually work in the mental health field so am very familiar w/ways to help cope w/anxiety/panic,  but none of the usual techniques worked during this episode, which scares me for if I have another such.  I did some “research” to see if others have had any similar experiences, and found something called “cast claustrophobia” which i’m sure is far from a “real” condition, but at least there are some others who have experienced something similar.  Has anyone here experienced anything of the sort and/or have any advice for how to cope?  I asked me doctor to prescribe me something just in case this happens again, and he prescribed me Xanax, but I really am not a “pill popper” and usually like to try anything I can before resorting to medications.