33 weeks out

Hi everyone, it’s been a while so thought I’d post an update on the achilles. Since I got cleared at 6months post op, I’ve been trying to return to open to open gyms, and even played in a tournament at 28weeks post op! I haven’t played at all since the quarantine started but I think that’s actually for the best, since it was very clear during the tournament I wasn’t ready to go that hard yet. The left achilles (the injured one) has been very ok - I still do my toe raises almost everyday, but single leg toe raises are probably 50% of the right one. When I do eccentric lowers on the left, I cant do it without holding a railing because it’s too weak to hold up my bodyweight still. The calf is still a lot smaller than the right too, but I’m hoping over the next 6 months or so the left will catch up. The tendon is also SUPER thick, at least an inch wider.

A random thing I found helpful (for both achilles) is massaging the tendon and calf manually. There are a lot of videos you can lookup on how to do that for achilles tendonitis, but the way my PT does it is have me laying face down on the table, she dorsiflexes my foot, and massages the area kind of where the calf and tendon meet, or about 4-6 inches above the heel bone for me. She actually focuses on my right achilles as it’s extremely tight, despite all the stretching I do for it now. But massaging it consistently has really helped it loosen up (it was like massaging a brick wall when she started, and was very painful. After a few days of ~20min each time - I would ask my mom to do it at home also lol - it feels like a cat’s belly now)

This may be because of the achilles injury, but after I’ve returned to lifting, I got injured in other areas easily. My knees give out really easily and the PT isnt sure if it’s a sprain or jumper’s knee, but you’d think after resting it for so long (and not jupming) I wouldnt have these issues. People say it may be because I tried doing too much too soon, but I believe I started at such low weight/intensity and gradually built up over 2months, so I honestly don’t think it’s that.

My scar from surgery became a keloid scar also - not sure if this happened to other people here but if so, did you guys do anything to try to make it better or more flexible? The scar tissue is so stiff I think it’s preventing some mobility.

But anyways, I’m lowkey okay with being quarantined right now, since no one can go lift or play volleyball, it’s forcing my body to rest for a good few months and I’ll hopefully be better when things open again.

19 weeks out!

Hi guys, just wanted to post an update to my progress the past month and a half. I had my final followup with my surgeon last week and he fully cleared me! I haven’t played yet but he said it’s ok to practice volleyball now and compete (as well as sprint) when I’m 6mo post op. I’ve been doing PT 3-5x/week where I’m now jogging for 15min at 90% bodyweight on the AlterG tredmill (I think it really helps when you’re getting back into jogging again), a LOT of calf raises and variations (the surgeon said focusing on the slow eccentric lowering part of the calf raise would help strengthen the tendon more, so been doing those on a step), and even some single/both leg jumping exercises. I can now barely do a single leg calf raise, but it’s much better than 5 weeks ago when I couldn’t even get off the ground. I can even feel my calf muscle now when I contract and see a little muscle definition return, whereas there was literally not the faintest outline of my calf before. I did 2×10 (almost) max squat jumps also a few days ago and I didn’t feel any discomfort! My goal over the next few weeks will be to continue strengthening it till I can comfortably do a full single leg calf raise, and to keep stretching both to hopefully reduce the chance of this ever happening again. Even though the surgeon said conscious/controlled max jumping was okay (as opposed to reactive max jumping like in actual competition), I forgot to ask him about diving in volleyball, but will probably followup with him on that soon.

13 weeks out

Hi everyone, joining the party a little late, but just wanted to share/document my experience so far post surgery.

I fully ruptured my achilles at a volleyball tournament 9/1/2019. I was just taking a step to start my approach when hitting (I hadn’t even jumped yet) where my foot was in dorsiflexion, and I assume the force pushing off in that position was somehow enough to tear it. I heard a loud pop - I thought a ball from another court landed right on my calf or that someone from the sidelines came on the court and kicked me. It was devastating; I didn’t do anything special/push off noticeably harder than usual, and through my 13 years of playing, I’ve taken this step millions of times without an after thought. I’m extremely young for the demographic of achilles tears (21 at the time, now 22), female, not overweight (~150lbs/5ft9) and I had no pain/tightness/warning up till the moment I tore it which made me feel all the more worse about myself. I couldn’t believe it - volleyball has always been what I looked forward to the most in life (I played in college as well) and after tearing it, doing all the research I did, and seeing how horribly the injury impacted other athletes (specifically NBA players), I was in a really dark place.

I got surgery asap which wasn’t till 9/12/2019, and I was scared waiting so long would effect the healing. Afterwards, I was casted for 2 weeks, and transitioned to a boot with wedges after. I’ve never been immobile for this long in my life! Going to work was so difficult, and I got so many stares on my injury scooter. I’ve been walking in my normal sneakers for more than a month now, but I still have difficulty walking. It’s gotten better - a month ago I could only walk extremely slow with a noticeable limp, but if you actually watched me now you could still tell something’s wrong with my mechanics. I think this is causing the pain in my healthy leg’s knee and the back of my injured leg’s knee :(

Some things helping me cope: I started working on upper body within a week post surgery (as soon as the horrible pain subsided) about 4x/week. As soon as I was FWB and started to get ROM back, I started with body weight squats and whatever other lower body exercises I could do. I used to have a 225lb max squat, and today I’ve been doing 45lb goblet squats for reps (definitely not trying to push it too soon), and working out my lower body has helped a lot with my mindset. My left calf however is still smaller than my right, and I still can’t do a single leg tip toe on the left.

One of my biggest fears has been rerupture of my injured achilles or tearing my healthy one, since my PT said my right achilles was super tight. Tbh, even once I’m cleared to play, I feel like this fear will always be holding me back, and I won’t be able to play at a high level anymore. My vertical must have of course gone way down and I’m afraid it won’t ever get back to where it was. I’ve also read many other blogs/experiences and it looks like I’m behind in recovery since I still can’t even walk properly over 3 months out. My surgeon cleared me to jog a month from now, and I hope by then I’ll be able to without heavily favoring my right leg because I think I’ll just injure something else more. He also predicted back before surgery that I’d be playing light volleyball 6mo out, but with my progress I’m not sure anymore if that’s possible.

Would love to hear more experiences, specifically when you all were able to do a single leg tip toe. Hopefully things improve from here. Thanks for reading!