My ATR update: 9 weeks post op

A quick update on the recovery

I am now on Week 9 post-op, with Week 10 starting tomorrow. Last week I went to see my doc and got clearance to FWB, walking with a cane/crutch. I got permission to swim, ride bicycle, which I immediately started doing.

So what’s now?

  • I continue stretching/strengthening exercises at home at least twice a day - when I wake up and before I go to bed
  • I started going to the gym, doing all kinds of exercises, including rowing machine, as well as interval training on basically all muscle groups, but calf-specific
  • In the swimming pool, I swim and do calf raises in the chest-deep water
  • I am still carrying a crutch, walking on the street sometimes. But I am not actually using it. Will stop even carrying crutch starting tomorrow. I have a slight limp, but it’s improving every day. And I am walking my normal stride, more or less. Coming downstairs remains a challenge so far, but I am working on it and hope to be able to do it unnoticeably and without any discomfort.
  • I should not be dong calf raises for another 3 weeks or so. What I do are seated calf raises (weighted and unweighted), as well as getting up on the healthy leg toes and coming down on the healing one. No rush here.

The only thing that bothers me is swelling that I get during the day. While it is minimal or absent in the morning, by the end of the day it gets bigger. However, it is reducing, as far as I can tell, with jacuzzi and sauna after exercising helping quite significantly.

Overall, happy to be back to active exercising. Excited to be able to walk normally, as before the rupture.

I must also mention that my doc told me to not even think about starting running until 6 months post op. Which is not really cool, I must say. Especially as I now know that one fellow ultimate player started a really aggressive rehab program on Week 9, doing all kinds of “crazy” stuff on the healing leg, including jumping and running. I kind of trust my doctor. As I am able to do many-many things in the gym, I don’t expect it to be an issue returning to full fitness once I can start running. What was your experience with this one?

Please also share how long did it take it for you before swelling disappeared completely.

10 Responses to “My ATR update: 9 weeks post op”

  1. I read back through my blog and I got permission to do 10 minutes of light jogging at week 15 once I transitioned out of my heel lifts. By week 18 I was done with heel lifts and could then jog 1/4 mile - slowly - no cutting, flat ground only. At the 6 month mark I got permission to “do anything”. Until that point I was not allowed to go up/down any hills. When I asked my doc about more aggressive rehab he said he wanted to make sure I was fully healed and strong so that I could go back to playing soccer with no problems. And since I’m back to doing everything I did his plan worked for me.

    I still had some swelling at week 14 - but only if I was upright for many hours.

    Feel free to read through my blog to see the path I took to get back to doing everything I used to do.

  2. I’m almost 8 months out and still have a little bit of swelling. I recommend wearing a compression sock - that does a great job controlling the swelling all day.

  3. Thanks, cserpent & emupilot.
    I think my doc is just trying to prevent me from going too hard into rehab. I will stick to the advice, for now =) Especially given that I see improvements daily, as I am working on stretching and coming downstairs. So far so good. Thanks for the compression sock tip, emupilot. Will try it.

    P.S. cserpent, I’m being forwarded to a non-achilles blog web-site and can’t read your story. I s there any direct link? thanks.

  4. Here’s my achillesblog page Roman:

  5. Were you able to do one-leg raise before you were cleared to run at week 15?

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  6. Hi Roman, I read that you went to the gym at 9 weeks and started all kind of exercises- including rowing. Did you do single leg rowing or just used both legs? What about squats - did you just go ahead and do them?

  7. Hi bdelputte - I actually started going to the gym at 4 weeks. I had to do non-weight bearing exercises including rowing with only one foot. I exercised on quite a few machines where I could just use one foot. I did a lot of weights either sitting on the floor or on a bench. My doc did give me permission to rest my surgery foot on the bike pedal (recumbent) while I pedaled with the other. At 6 weeks I could put weight on my foot but there was not enough flexibility to be able to row with both feet yet. At that point I could also use the treadmill (no incline).. Once the incision is healed you can also swim. Until my leg got stronger and more flexible I did a lot of swimming in order to get a more aerobic workout for both legs. Check with your doc about what you can and can’t do.

  8. Thx Cserpent. That is a lot of exercise at 6 week. My problem is that Doctor has referred me to the physio’s assessment and the one I’ve seen so far is just taking a very generic stance of ‘no exercise for the next two months’ - without even checking my leg. He was just a general physiotherapist at the hospital who now has referred me to another one - which I am seeing in two weeks. I guess I’ll just have to wait and continue the single leg rowing until then.

  9. And advocate for yourself regarding your PT person. I made a point to emphasize I wanted someone who deals with athletes (I’m with Kaiser) and that changed their tune when they were setting up my first PT session. I wanted to get back to playing soccer so I wanted someone who would work with me to get my maximum flexibility/strength/… back. I’m certainly no soccer star - but I do play 3-4x per week when I’m healthy. And ignore the “no exercise” stance. As long as you are NWB (assuming that’s the point you’re at in your recovery) on your ATR foot you can do any exercise. I didn’t even ask my doc about my first round of exercises. I only asked him about the bike when I found out how hard it is to pedal with only one foot! Just resting the surgery foot on the other pedal helped tremendously. He did insist on the recumbent bike, which was fine since I prefer that exercise bike anyway - easier on my butt - LOL! And look up 1-footed exercise videos on YouTube - there are a LOT of them :) I started doing one that is about 20 minutes during week 2 at home :) I could do most and keep my NWB leg elevated or level which was my docs requirement for the first 3 weeks.

  10. Hi Barbara, at week 9/10 I was already able to do two-leg rowing. Perhaps, the fact that I started doing stretching and strengthening exercises with resistance bands, both active and passive, at home right after the splint was removed 6 weeks post-op, helped. That being said, when I came to see my doc 8 weeks post-op to be cleared for FWB, I already had almost full ROM back on the healing leg. I remember having slight discomfort at first, but only slight and not for long.

    As to squats, I never head the go ahead from my doctor. His only recommendation was to not rush and don’t do anything through pain. I started with air squats, quickly progressing to 20kg barbell. 2 weeks after I could do 8-10 squats with 50kg barbell. I took great care not to push too hard and if I could not do full squat I went down on weight. And I also work with weights that don’t cause weight shifting to a healthy leg. You have to do your squats with correct stance.

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