DIY Physiotherapy (PT)?

Last night I took the boot off to wash the leg. This was the first time I had seen it/touched it for a while, so I was a bit scared as to what it would be like. I was very relieved! It looks basically normal (though hairy). It is a bit wasted, but my calf is smallish anyway so it wasn’t such a shock. The foot was very slightly swollen, though this swelling seemed to disappear after the foot had been aired a bit. The main thing that was different was (surprise surprise) the achilles tendon! It kind of felt and looked like a normal tendon - and I was so relieved to feel that I could feel and see the tendon there and it wasn’t ’squishy’ there at the back! But there is a hardish lump there just above the bit of tendon that you can feel in your ankle. I’m guessing this is where the healing is happening.

I gently washed and moisturised, and had a little go at moving… I can do things like move my foot up and down and side to side a bit. But I am scared to touch it or move it too much. It’s not that it hurts, I think it’s just that I am scared and instinctively treating it like it is tender. How much/what should I do? My NHS physio doesn’t start until 4 weeks time (which will be 9 weeks since the rupture). Should I find a private physio? Or are there any gentle and safe exercises that I should be doing at home? Or is the main thing just to try to walk on it!?

13 Responses to “DIY Physiotherapy (PT)?”

  1. Check out the rehab schedules with the best results and follow them.. ../Cecilia/Protocols has the 3 best.

  2. Exactly as Norm says - I initially started my own form of PT will no ill effects, just be sensible and always er on the side of caution! Good luck.

  3. Snafu, it’s good to be very cautious at this stage. In the boot, you’re well protected, but out of it you’re a bit like a turtle without its shell. I pushed to start my PT as soon as I got in the boot and I was glad I did. I got help with walking PWB and establishing a normal gait in the boot–and help transitioning to FWB. I also received direction on very gentle ROM exercises and tendon massage that I could do at home. Lastly, there are also important hip and core exercises (that can be done with the boot on) that are very helpful at this stage. It’s not just the Achilles and calf muscles that need attention. You could do this on your own, but I would recommend getting some expert help here. Having someone show you on your own body what’s OK and what to avoid is very valuable. -David

  4. Thank you all. I have been to Cecilia’s page, and I can see that I should be doing physiotherapy at this stage (according to the protocol), but I don’t know exactly what exercises I should be doing? Maybe it’s just that I don’t understand the physio-speak. Maybe there is somewhere I can see diagrams etc of the exercises?
    In any case *davidk* on your advice I have emailed a local physio practise to see if they will take me on at this point…

  5. As soon as I was out of a cast and put into a boot, I immediately set up my first PT appointment. It helped a lot with my ROM and flexibility. I wish I could just send you a link with the exercises as I can’t describe them well verbally.

  6. Yay for the boot! We are around the same point as far as recovery and I started PT last week. I am also going private and think it is worth the investment, just make sure you find a PT that is onboard with modern protocols.

  7. Hi *herewegoagain* - nice to know that someone else is at a similar stage! I have not had a reply to my email from the physiotherapist and am getting impatient!

    *atr2014* are you not allowed to send a link, or is that you don’t have one? It would be great to have a copy of your exercises if it’s no trouble for you (but please don’t go to any trouble!).

  8. I just don’t have a link of my exercises and I wouldn’t be very good at describing them in detail to you.

    The first things that my PT had me start on was range of motion exercises such as:

    30 rotations of the ankle to the L and then 30 rotations to the R
    With my foot on the floor, I would do 30 toe scrunches (almost as if you were trying to pick something up with your toes)
    30 heel lifts (all while seated)
    30 toe lifts
    30 second heel slide (3x) This is basically sitting down on a chair and slowly slide your injured leg towards you until you feel a slight stretch and hold it there for 30 seconds.

    To strengthen my quads she had me do straight knee leg lifts for two sets of 15 (slowly)

    This was what I was limited to do until I got out of the boot. Once I got out of the boot, I graduated to many more exercises.

  9. Thank you so much *atr2014*. I just have a quick question before I do something stupid… do you do these exercises in the boot or barefoot? I have only taken the boot off to wash my leg/foot so far…

  10. Snafu, these are not my exercises, but I can tell you you’ll need to take your boot off for most of them. This is where you want to be very careful and not do too much stretching. Another simple one at this stage is to “write” the alphabet with your toes. So, while seated (I used to sit on the floor with my foot slightly elevated with a pillow under my calf) you gently move your foot as if you were writing the alphabet in the air with your toes. -David

  11. Hi, sounds like my protocol very similar to yours. I came out of boot at twelve weeks then started therapy. I focused on ROM exercises when I took boot off for washing or for a little while during day. Felt a bit behind everyone when I read how early they started physio but to be honest, at week 16 now, feel strength and mvt is coming back nicely. Think you should go with your gut feelings but be cautious. The boot is there for a reason, don’t push yourself to soon or too much. Happy healing n keep us posted.

  12. Alphabet advice is really good

  13. Thank you everyone. When I have the boot off for washing/changing, I am doing the alphabet writing with my toes, and also some circles. It feels fine - nice even.
    Being in the boot is amazing… I feel so normal, being able to walk around the house with no crutches, and for outside journeys I can crutch very quickly now that I can also weight bear.

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