breaking ankles again by 2016

Won’t be 100% at a Year, but Improving: 11 Month Update

I was hoping to be completely back to normal around this time, but I’m not quite there yet.  The good news is that I’m still slowly improving, and at this point have no limitations on the activities that I can do.  Also, though the periodic soreness is not completely gone, for the most part my issues with my right (good) achilles have gone away.

In terms of progress, it all comes down to calf strength, as my left calf is still around an inch less in circumference than my right.  It is getting more defined, and stronger, but the girth is only very slowly coming back (also my right has increased in girth over the last 6 months).  My routine hasn’t officially changed, but I wasn’t very good about doing my exercises over the last 4-6 weeks.  Even so, my strength has improved.  As cliche as it is, with the new year I’ve recommitted to my continued recovery and general fitness, and so far it’s going well.  For some personal reasons, I had to cancel some of the adventures I had planned (bike tour and surf trip), but things have now settled down and my wife and I have a beach and surf trip to San Diego coming up at the end of this week which I’m really looking forward to.  Also, the bball rec. league starts in two weeks!  The grumpy old men are beginning to assemble…

My achievements since my last check in are:

  • Went for my first actual jog and felt great, though I did have some general ankle soreness afterwards.  I’ve done plenty of running while playing bball, but it’s kind of different.  I’ve since gone on one other jog, but will probably add it to my weekly routine, and maybe do it daily on the beach while in San Diego.
  • Have gone downhill skiing a bunch, and am adjusting pretty well.  The first couple times I did have some extra fatigue in my calf, but nothing too noticeable, and my skiing does not seem to be affected in any way (other than general lack of ski conditioning from missing a full season).
  • Have gone cross country skiing a bunch, and feel great with no limitations.
  • Continue to play bball, and feel a bit better out there every time, most notably on defense.  I’m still not where I’d like to be, but watching Kobe who is 2.5 years removed from his injury and the same age as me, I have to say even at this stage I’m quite a bit closer to my pre-injury peak than he is.  My lateral quickness still needs to improve, as does my first step and ability to finish strong, but those are probably all about 70-80% right now, which when considering how much strength I still have to gain in my calf, is pretty reasonable.
  • My ability to do a calf raise has continued to improve, despite a fairly neglectful recovery routine for the last 6 weeks.  I still can’t quite get that last 5-10% without assistance, but I can knock out 10-20 or so at 80-90% height, which is not too much different than my right.
  • When I do my vertical jumping drills, I can jump about the same height on each side.  I still have a pretty noticeable difference when doing my one and three jump forward jump tests on each leg, but that seems to be slowly improving.

For those of you early in recovery, you’ll be out doing the activities you love before you know it!  Set small goals, and use the blog to track your progress to see how much you improve from month to month.  Each week or month, looking back on where you were before is so helpful with motivation.

January 5th, 2016 at 6:56 am

8 Responses to “Won’t be 100% at a Year, but Improving: 11 Month Update”

  1. Manny Says:

    Thanks, Skelonas, for the good news. It sounds like you are really doing well. I’m only 4 weeks from my rupture, and am just starting to be able to move around in my boot without pain.
    Can’t wait to be back on the dancing floor! :-D

  2. skelonas Says:

    You’ll get there Manny!

  3. cpo Says:

    Sounds like you are crushing it, @skelonas! I am only maybe weeks or so behind you and the idea of playing hoops and jumping seems a pipe dream still! I like your heel lift regimen sounds great, and I am doing a hundred or more a day myself, planning my first backpacking trip next weekend. That said, skiing and running on the beach sounds awesome. Great work, and thanks for the update!

  4. tinaj68 Says:

    Well, I am glad to hear this good news! I am 11 months post-op. And still experiencing pain. But after reading your post I am wondering if what I am feeing is soreness instead of pain. I hope you keep improving.

  5. beanie Says:

    Skelonas, thank you for the update and for keeping such a detailed blog throughout, it has been so helpful and interesting to read. You mentioned that around 16 weeks, you had bumps of scar tissue at the end points of your incision. I was wondering specifically about the one at the top of your incision where the achilles and calf join - has that gone away or do you still have it? Did it cause any tightness in your calf? You mentioned that your physio did some gua sha on the scar tissue, do you think that this helped with reducing the scar tissue and returning those areas back to normal? I’m curious because I am at a similar point and I can feel the hard knots of tissue and have a large bump at the top that gets more prominent whenever I exercise the area. I’m concerned that it is attached to and pulling on my calf muscles. My physio is oriented to functional rehab as opposed to massage or manipulation, so I’m investigating what works when it comes to reducing or normalizing scar tissue. Thanks again for all your progress updates, I remember what pulled me to your blog was the post on lengthening and then the debate that followed in the comments :)

  6. skelonas Says:

    I’m just seeing all of your comments now…

    cpo - hope your backpacking trip went well. I did a couple of those this fall, and certainly ran into some fatigue later in the day, but I think it was a good strength builder. Also, I’ve been playing hoops, but actually got back into actual running much later than you (just the last month or two). I think my pt focused on getting me back into bball before doing much sustained jogging/running as that was my end goal (to play hoops).

    tina - the pain vs. soreness question is tough to answer. I tend to think the soreness I’ve been having in both legs likely was there before and I just wasn’t as aware, though I wouldn’t call it pain. I find that doing my heal drops every morning (the fast ones) helps with morning soreness, and then just making sure I stretch a lot after activity. I think my morning soreness has been gradual decreasing.

    beanie - I still have some adhesion at the top of my scar, but not so much a bump. That being said, my achilles is a pretty big hump of scar tissue compared to the other side. I don’t think there is any tightness being caused because of this. Maybe I’ll try to post some pictures in my next post. I have found gua sha has helped with keeping the scar tissue down, and I continue to do it (maybe 2-3 times a week, but also on the ‘good side’ as it supposedly really helps with blood flow).

    Thanks to all of you for checking in and for your positive encouragement! Keep up the hard work!

  7. Mojo Says:

    I am also 1 year post op from Achilles’ tendon rupture/repair. I was beginning to wonder if my progress was slower than others, but I sound very comparable to how you are doing now. I still go to PT 1x/week to work primarily on calf strengthen and jumping/balancing/weight-shifting drills. They are also having me run in the Alter G (anti-gravity) machine which has been great in gradually increasing my weightbearing (and speed in walking to jogging) over the last 6 months. I am probably about 75-80%…not quite back to normal yet in the areas I just mentioned although happy that I am now pain free and can walk/jog at 85% of my weight without a limp. Yay! My calf muscle in my injured leg is still significantly atrophied compared to my non-injured leg and I also have the knotting above my scar which my PT does massage to break up some of that tissue (and I do notice a difference that it seems to be improving). So glad to hear that you were able to snow ski without problems as I will be going in a few weeks and I’m quite nervous about it! So over all I feel like I have almost hit a plateau in improvement just lacking that extra strength and bounce my step. I will continue to work hard doing my exercise classes 2-3x/week (can now do Pilates reformer, Barre, Latin Fusion Dance class, strengthening) in addition to PT 1x/week. Just wondering if one can ever fully recover from this and how long should it take? Going to my doctor for recheck soon so hopefully I can get an answers from him. Thanks for reaffirming that I am going in the right direction! Much better than 1 year ago…that is for sure!

  8. skelonas Says:

    Keep it up Mojo - you’re doing all the right things, and though progress does seem to slow down vs. earlier on, it seems fairly common to continue improving through the second year. I’m certainly planning on it! In terms of fully recovering, I think everyone is different to some extent, and it’s all relative. If you are a professional athlete, I think it’s a lot harder to come back to 100%, but if you are a recreational athlete, the margins for performance just aren’t as tight. So whereas being 95% of your peak in the NBA is the difference between getting blocked on a jump shot or not, playing in men’s league just doesn’t make that much of a difference. I’m banking on being in better overall shape than I was before, so any small loss of power/strength due to injury will be well surpassed by gains in overall strength/fitness. I already feel that to some degree this year with hoops. I can feel a bit of a handicap on that side at times, but overall I think I’m a better player than last year when I jumped back into hoops without having played for a couple years, because now I’ve been working my way up to it and have gotten in good overall bball shape.

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