So I recently passed the 8th-month mark in my recovery from an ATR. In those eight months, especially in the early going, this site was an invaluable source of information, hope, and motivation. With that in mind, I thought I’d share my own experiences in that it might be of benefit to someone else.
I’m a 38 year old male, pretty active but only in okay shape. Before my injury I was typically playing sports (basketball, ultimate frisbee, softball) two to three nights a week. Over the years, I’ve been basically injury free other than the occasional ankle roll, though one year prior I did suffer a minor tear in the same leg.
Here’s the timeline of my injury and recovery:
July 14, 2016 – ATR in the closing minutes of an ultimate Frisbee game. Happened while make in a cut at half-speed. Knew exactly what had happened, and went straight to the hospital Emergency. Thompson test indicated full rupture. Put in a temporary splint with foot in plantar flexion.
July 18, 2016 – MRI confirmed a full tear with approximately 20mm gap (presumably with my foot in neutral position). Met with the Orthopedic Surgeon who recommended non-operative approach, and was put in a split cast with foot in full PF.
February 4, 2016 (3-weeks) – Cast was removed, and was fitted with an Aircast walking boot and 30° heel wedge. The Achilles felt tight in the boot, but it felt great to be out of the cast. Was able to transition to FWB within a week’s time. After two weeks in the boot, started doing gentle range-of-motion exercises and stretching (though never going to neutral), as well as flexing my calf muscle.
March 3, 2016 (7-weeks) – Removed one level of the heel wedge, and the next one a week later. Continued with stretching, and gentle exercises. By week 8, was able to carefully walk around the house in shoes.
March 17, 2016 (9-week) – Given the okay to transition to shoes with a heel wedge, though still wore boot when walking around outside. Calf felt like jello, and had to re-learn how to walk again. Had a lump of scar tissue above and below the rupture site. Tightness in the lump above rupture location, and the surrounding areas.
April 15, 2016 (13-weeks) – Started physio and massage therapy. The massages helped break down the lump of scar tissue reducing tightness and improving ROM.
May 26, 2016 (19-weeks) – Given go ahead to start more intensive exercises (e.g. jogging, single leg heel lifts) as permitted without pain. Was told I should be able to run/jump by the next appointment in 2 months.
July 21, 2016 (27-weeks) – Hit a recovery wall around Week 22, and stopped seeing steady progress (minimal to no strength gains). Part of this was due to recurring sharp pains in the ankle (not achilles) when I tried to work my calf muscle. Eventually was able to get past the hump by changing up my exercises around Week 25 and started seeing improvements again.
Today (~8 months) – Have eased my way back in to ultimate Frisbee over the last few weeks. Still can’t jump, but am able to sprint full out and make hard cuts. Oddly enough, I find that jogging causes more pain than sprinting. Have started doing a bit of jumping (box jumps, skipping rope, hopping side-to-side and forward-and-back). Calf is feeling stronger, and getting more height on the single leg heel lifts.
Anyways, that basically sums up my progress to date. I’ll post some more thoughts/details on my recovery later on (e.g., what’s worked for me, and what hasn’t; the exercises I’ve been doing, etc.).