16 weeks and getting stronger

Wow, hard to believe it has been sixteen weeks now. My achilles is definitely getting stronger, I had a physio appt this week and I can lift about 70% of my weight on my injured right leg doing heel raises. Physiotherapist has said to target a single heel raise for six month mark, we will see.

I played a game of golf today, likely the final one of the season, it is getting cold here in the northeast. But for the first time since the injury I WALKED the course , much better than using the damn powercarts! Felt great and I hit the ball well, good way to end the year.

I continue my gym routine, still have not done squats, stepper, or rowing machine where loaded dorsiflexion can occur. No issues with treadmill, eliptical, bikes. Went swimming in the hotel pool while travelling last week, felt great to swim and do sigle leg calf raises while in waist deep water, LOL.

Achilles is still tight first thing in the morning and if I have walked a lot of uphill grades I can certainly feel it (like right now after climbing greens and tee boxes today, LOL. The ankle does not swell as much anymore, and the tendon is starting to narrow, although still much thicker than what I see on my left heel. It is pretty obvious the rip was just above my heel, big bump on the tendon where the scar tissue has formed.

Fairly impressed with my progress at 16 weeks with the non-op approach. I think the Vacocast and early PT helped a lot. Cheers to all!

12 Week Anniversary Today

Well, it has been 12 weeks since that dreaded day in early July on the softball field. Things continue to progress relatively well, I suppose. I saw my orthopod last week, he says all is looking good with the healing process, range of motion and resting positions are the same with both feet, and reminded me to continue with my rehab but to be mindful that the tendon is still healing and vulnerable at this point. My physio guy has me doing double leg heel raises now, and using scales we determined that when doing a raise I am putting 35-40% weight on the injured leg at this point, which he thought was pretty good.

I continue to walk in runners pretty well, although the faster I go the more pronounced the limp becomes. Walking uphill is becoming easier, tendon definitely does not feel as tight as previously and I’m starting to get that normal “push off” feeling back in my right leg. Going upstairs is no problem and using Norms “roll over the step technique” (thanks for the comment on this) I can now go downstairs one foot at a time, albeit slowly, when there is a railing on the left. I continue to go to the gym regularly and am becoming more comfortable getting back to most of the leg exercises (presses, extensions, curls, etc.), anything that does not cause significant dorsiflexion (not doing weighted calf raises). Biking and elliptical are no problem and am back to normal speed and resistance on both…treadmill walking and stepper machine are both a little slower than pre-injury but getting better for sure.

At this point I’m fairly impressed with the recovery using the non-surgical route, hopefully good progress will continue. Summer is ending here in the Northeast, one more game of golf planned next week though! Not yet sure if I will wear the Vacocast for safety or not…hmmm. Cheers to all who are going through this…to those who have just injured themselves and found this resource, keep your spirits up…it does get better than those first days of casted-NWB hell!!!

Week 10! Fore!!!!

Hello all, time for another update in Seaweed’s recovery saga, LOL.

So I followed my plan, decreasing the Vacocast 5 degrees for the last few weeks and ended neutral position at week eight. At that time I decided to move along with the suggested protocol and started walking in running shoes around the house or anywhere “safe” and only put the boot on for unsafe walking. Since I was vacationing at my parents cottage with the kids, there was lots of “unsafe opportunities” on the rocky beach and up and down the dirt roads at the cottage. Glad to have the boot for protection. I tried a heel lift in my running shoes but found it uncomfortable so I took it out, I think they already have enough of a heel lift.

Upon my return I decided it was week nine, lets see if I can swing a golf club with the boot on as there were two upcoming golf events that I was supposed to play in but had tentatively declined due to injury. I set the Vacocast to -5 to +10 setting and went to driving range. To my surprise and delight, I found I could swing with no problem and could hit almost the same distance as usual. The next day I saw my PT and told him my plan, he agreed it should be safe in the boot, so this weekend I played two rounds of golf (power cart to get around)! It felt great to be participating again! I could certainly feel it by the end of both rounds (even with a cart there is plenty of walking and mostly on slopes) but just the level of discomfort I would expect with rehab of this injury. A second tournament for Special Olympics this weekend, can’t wait!

I have also ditched the cast when going to the gym and started doing both the bike and elliptical machines in running shoes. Tentative at first, but after a week or so I am back to almost my normal speed and resistance on both machines. Also have returned to leg press, leg extension, and leg curl exercises with both legs, much easier with no cast in the way. Have not tried any calf exercises yet, sticking to PT exercises for now. My PT was quite surprised that at nine weeks I have my full range of motion on the injured ankle…I told him I thought it probably had to do with the hinged boot and early WB protocol I had been following. I also saw an orthopod (mine is in Chile for three weeks) and he said everything looked great but cautioned full recovery is six-nine months out and to be cautious.

So for now I am continuing with PT…regular gym stuff, theraband exercises with more rigid tubing, started balance board at week nine (but nothing past neutral)…I can walk easily but do have a limp, made worse the faster I walk. I can climb stairs one leg at a time but cannot go down the same way, always bring the second foot to the same stair before going down. Some heel pain if I am on my feet for a long period, but nothing bad. And some swelling around the ankle at the end of the day, but is mostly gone after sleeping all night.

I had wondered where the tendon ripped but given the bump on the back of my heel where the scar tissue is being laid down (much like others have seen) it is not hard to imagine where it must have torn. I’ll try and post some pics of my leg and me golfing in the boot later this week.

So far so good, LOL!

Six weeks and counting

Well, it has now been just over six weeks from the date of injury. Things are progressing fairly well. Now have the Vacocast set at 10 degrees, will speak to my Dr. sometime this week and hopefully move to 5 degrees this week and on to 0 degrees next week. Closely studying the various protocols I have, my aim is to be at 0 degrees (eqv of no wedges) by eight weeks as most seem to call for.

Continuing to do physio twice a week, PT says we will be starting something new this week (I see him tomorrow). Up to this point it has just been seated calf raises with electrical stimulation and instructions to work on the same at home with soft stretching.

Started showering without the boot on a few weeks ago, a little scary to stand on the leg but good progress. Also started sleeping without it at week 5, first few nights I woke up every time I moved for fear of dorsiflexion, LOL! Actually hobbled from the bed to the bathroom the other morning sans boot, felt very weird, not much foot control, LOL. I started driving again this week, nice to not have to depend on my wife and co-workers to get around.

I have progressed my gym workouts to biking and elliptical machines, both are relatively easy to do in the boot. Also started single leg extensions/presses/curls/calf presses with the good leg.

Slow but sure! Hope everyone is enjoying the last few weeks of summer!

Four Week Anniversary

Wow, four weeks ago today…

I can’t believe how much my calf muscle has shrunk :-(

Hello From Nova Scotia

I found this site after my injury and have enjoyed reading everyone’s progress and comments.


I’m a 44yr old male, work as a biochemist for a marine plant company, moderately active and go the gym regularly.  On July 5th my company was having a friendly game of softball after work.  Sounded like fun, not too strenuous, what could happen? :-) We had been playing about 45 min, I went up to bat, got a hit and jogged to first base.  Next player hit the ball and I started running to second, all of a sudden POP! Thought the ball hit me in the right leg, then saw it in front of me…oh no!  Realize I can’t push off my ankle, OK must be calf or (gasp) Achilles :-(

Hobble back to bench, thinking about the calf tear I had four years earlier and how they tested my leg and said you are lucky, not an Achilles rupture.  Now I touch the back of the leg above my heel and there is no tension there at all…oh crap!  Tell my friend I think I ruptured my Achilles, lets go to emergency.

Arrive at the hospital 7PM Friday evening, tell the triage nurse what I think I have done.  She sends me to waiting area.  Takes about 45 min to see Dr, she does Thompson test and confirms my fears, Achilles rupture.  Sends me for an x-ray to ensure part of the heel has not torn off.  After another 45 min she returns to tell me no sign of bone fragment separation, and that she has scheduled an ultrasound for 1st thing the next morning and since Othro was in doing surgery a member would come down, review the imaging, and talk to me about course of treatment.  The put me in a split at full plantar flexion and send me on my way, not bad only 2hrs from arrival.  No pain or discomfort, just depressed.

Exactly 12hrs later I am back at the hospital getting an ultrasound, the imaging Dr advises me she cannot see ‘ends’ but can see tearing and striation.  Sent to off to emergency to wait to see an ortho consult, where I am used as the teaching display to show all the staff-in-training what an ATR looks like and how to diagnose.  After a four hour wait the Ortho Dr arrives, looks at the leg and explains that surgery is mostly done on high profile athletes and in the US, whereas most other countries have gone to non-surgical repair based on recent studies.  Explains that he will plaster cast the foot for two weeks, then into a walking boot with physio for the next 8-12 weeks.  Has me flex to full plantar flexion and applies a cast, tells me not to weight bear, and sends me on my way.

Stop and pick up some crutches (oh lord) go home, a friend who was a semi-pro baseball player calls me and I explain what happened.  He is shocked they did not do surgery and tells me it will never heal this way…yikes.  So unable to move about, I start reading on the internet and find this wonderful site! Thanks to Norm for all of the info he has posted on non-surgical vs surgical ATR treatments, downloaded and read a bunch of the Journal studies, made me feel much better and more confident in the route I have taken.

Hobbled around on crutches for two weeks putting no weight on the leg (not that I could anyway with the angle of the cast) continued to read this site and learned of the Vacocast and benefits of it vs the Airboot that seems to be the common walking boot in this area.  Ordered one from the Canadian distributor with an extra liner, with rush shipping it arrived 30hrs after I ordered it, very impressive.  Set it at 30 degrees PF and took it and the rehab protocol sudsy posted with me to my two week follow up with Ortho.  The Dr had never seen one but was very interested in it.  Gave me their protocol, and it is almost identical to the Vaco and other aggressive protocols posted here (whew!). 

Removed the plaster cast, put the boot on, and sent me straight to physio dept.  They had an opening so went right in, talked to physiotherapist and he reviewed the protocol, gave me some tips to walk with crutches (why did I not have this two weeks earlier, grr!) used scales to show what 25% weight bearing felt like, explained ROM and stretching I needed to do three times a day, and sent me on my way.  I have been seeing him twice a week and will for the foreseeable future.

So for the first week in the Vacocast I was 25% WB, made it much easier to get around.  This week I progressed to 50% WB and we started doing seated heel raises, no pain but certainly can feel it tight…being very careful around the house, do not move without the boot on…having the 2nd liner is awesome, shower every 2nd day with the boot on and the wet liner goes into the wash with a new dry one on after I have washed the leg.

So I’m now at week four…long slow process, depressing at times, hoping for full recovery!  Four week anniversary of injury is tomorrow, yay :-(

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