Fitness Update


I rejoined the gym earlier this week in hopes of expanding my fitness regimen now that I’m getting around a little better.  Usually around this time of year I’m cancelling my membership, eager to be active outdoors.  But, this year I’ll spend a bit more time indoors at the gym trying to rebuild the strength in my leg.

I went to the gym on Saturday and it felt really good to be back.  I’m guessing it’s just another one of those feelings of normalcy.  It was also nice to do something active that didn’t involve my bike trainer.  After doing a bit of stretching, I hopped onto an elliptical machine to do a bit of cardio work.  I figured the elliptical would provide a good, no impact workout for the legs and also get my heart rate going. 

The first 20 minutes on the elliptical went well.  I started to feel a little bit more strain on the tendon during the last 5 minutes of my workout.  But, overall I would say the elliptical is a pretty good rehab option.  I have just a few thoughts:

1.  I’m not sure I’d use the elliptical too much prior to around week 10 post op, at least under a rehab protocol similar to mine.  It’s difficult to control your stride length without going to a high level of resistance, so you could over stretch the tendon and cause some pain.

2.  Back pedalling on the elliptical produces a bit more strain than pedalling forward.  Be careful when back pedalling.

3.  The elliptical provides a lot of different setting options.  I just used one of the preset cross training programs, but you could program your own workout to isolate the calves.

4.  It may be possible to use the elliptical while in the boot.  Do not attempt this without first speaking to your doctor.  But, the foot holds on the elliptical are rather large, and might work with the boot.  I’m not sure how the movement would feel while in the boot, but it could be worth a try, if your doctor agrees.

After the elliptical I worked on the stretching, strengthening, and balance exercises that I’ve been doing in PT.  One of the areas I’ve focused on this week has been stairs.  So, I’m doing several step exercises which seem to be helping.  I think it will continue to be a bit awkward until I’m able to keep more weight up on my toes.

I returned back to the gym this morning to try out some pool exercises.  I worked mainly in chest to shoulder depth water and felt like I got a good workout.  I did some single leg heel raises, jogged a bit, and hopped around on the injured leg.  I also tried some single leg heel raises in waist deep water, but I needed to use my arms to hold some of the weight.  I didn’t attempt much swimming other than a couple lengths of the pool.  It felt a little uncomfortable with my foot kicking around on the surface of the water, so I decided not to push that right away.  A couple of thoughts on the pool:


1.  It seems like it would be very difficult to get around safely on crutches.  I thought this was also true with the shower room.  You may want to ask your gym if they have a wheelchair that you could use to get to the edge of the pool.  Getting out of the pool safely also seems like a bit of a challenge.

2.  The pool seems like a great way to start working the leg once you start weightbearing.  My doctor had suggested using the pool earlier in my recovery, but I was hesitant because I didn’t want to spend the money on the gym membership if I found that using the pool wasn’t right for me.  In hindsight, I wish I would have started using the pool about a month ago, probably some time around week 8 post op.

So, I plan to work the pool exercises into my workout routine.  I figure maybe 3 days in the water and 3 days on dry land.  I’ll see how that feels after a week and then make some adjustments.


Jim asked the question the other day about what outdoor exercises will be good to start with, metioning biking and rollerblading as options.  I’m also curious what others think.  Biking will most likely be my activity of choice until I can start running again.  I also think I’ll do a bit more hiking over the next couple of months.  One thing that kind of caught me off guard was the feeling of walking on uneven surfaces.  Not that it has been uncomfortable, but just a weird feeling with all the muscles in the foot and leg learning again how to fire at the right time to keep balanced.  I think hiking will be a good challenge for regaining balance.

3 Responses to “Fitness Update”

  1. Nice update. I think my brain stopped firing the muscles in my calf a few days after the injury. I imagine it takes a lot of time to get them working again. I like the comparison photos on your site too.

  2. *Update* - I was back at the pool again this morning. I noticed that my gym has a wheelchair in the pool area. It actually looks like it’s made for pools as the frame is made out of PVC. The pool also has an accessibility ramp. I go to a “Y” gym and they tend to be pretty good with accessibility issues. Other pools may not have the ramp, but may still have a wheelchair.

    Also, I forgot to mention that I used the whirlpool the last couple of days. I get a pretty good massage from holding my leg in front of one of the jets. It feels pretty good.

  3. Good post Tom. Thanks. I think the Eliptical would be awesome once out of a boot, with sufficient ROM and with doctors’ approval.

    Thoughts on walking with an aircast: I spent a lot of time in airports yesterday, and found that 1) it helped to have my crutches with me (even though 100% WB) for quicker movement over long distances through concourses, and 2) shorter steps in the boot provide more a more “normal” gait and allow me to keep my foot in a more normal position (not angled out).

    I also had to walk through a construction site the other day…that was fun! :)

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