Road to Recovery - Physical Therapy Experience

So 1 week after my cast was removed I was referred to physical therapy. My doctor explained to me that having the cast on was the easy part.  The road to recovery is the hard part….and he was right.  I did not realize the role of the Achilles tendon in relation to the foot and the calf muscle until I sustained this injury. Both of my legs sustained a significant amount of atrophy due to no/under use and the calf of the injured leg was like jello. I forgot to mention, I stopped taking the hydrocodone after week 1.

7 Weeks Post Injury.  The first week of physical therapy focused on re-gaining the range of motion in the foot; flexing the foot upwards/downwards and rotating the ankle. My therapist also performed instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization that breaks down scar tissue and fascial restrictions, optimizing the range of motion. It is called the Graston technique and it hurts like hell, but well worth it. Physical therapy at this point in the recovery process is 3 times per week. The Graston Technique is performed every Wednesday, so once a week. I am performing assigned exercises at home twice a day and icing/elevating the leg in the evening to minimize swelling. Lots of swelling.

8 Weeks Post Injury. Strengthening exercises are introduced. This is my second week of physical therapy. By the end of the week, I am out of my boot. I am also receiving deep tissue massages and manual manipulation of the foot and tendon. I am performing assigned exercises at home twice a day and icing/elevating the leg in the evening to minimize swelling. Lots of swelling.

9 Weeks Post Injury.  Strengthening exercises are continued and balancing exercises are introduced. I am able to perform toe presses with weight on the injured leg although I am still not able to do toe raises. I can tell the leg is getting stronger.  Physical therapy is now twice a week. By the end of the week, I am introduced to the elliptical machine. I can perform cardio on the elliptical for up to 30 minutes as instructed by my therapist as long as there is no pain. I have not had much pain since the cast was removed. Doctor released me back to work full time. I do not have to see my doctor anymore unless I have problems.  At this point, it is strictly recovery.  Swelling is getting better.

10 Weeks Post Injury. Strengthening and balancing exercises continued. Introduced to boxes to teach me how to go up and down stairs properly. Instructed by therapist to practice on one stair going up and down ensuring I bend the injured foot.  By the end of the week, I am able to go up and down stairs with no problem. A little painful initially, but the key is to ensure you bend the foot.  I am able to walk with almost no limp at all. Next week I am down to 1 day per week. Feeling really good. I have resumed my arm, leg, and ab workouts. I have no intentions on running anytime soon as I can satisfy my cardio with the elliptical. Swelling is minimal.

3 Responses to “Road to Recovery - Physical Therapy Experience”

  1. That’s awesome. I have a question regarding walking. I have started PT and I’m still walking with a limp. When I try to press off the ball of my foot, I fee like my calf isn’t firing, if that makes sense? Did you have this feeling as well?

  2. Hi Stephen,

    I know exactly what you are talking about and your calf muscle is not firing. Initially, it can be very frustrating. It feels like you/we have no control over the foot and unfortunately you/we don’t. It was explained to me that I will never regain full strength from the calf muscle and my strength would be regained by strengthening the muscles around the calf muscle. Do not know for sure if this is true, but that is what my therapist told me.

    Make sure as you continue to work on your walk, you do so by using a heel to toe motion. You will not be able to push off completely with the ball of your foot, but at least you will get used to the proper technique. Practice, practice practice! I know it may be difficult because you have not been using the foot or leg and it is very weak or not firing as you described, but you just have to push through it. My leg is still very weak and I know I have a long way to go, but I am able to walk on it, something I could not do after I sustained the injury, and it is much stronger today than it was when I first began PT approximately a month ago. That’s how I keep my recovery in perspective. You will begin to see a big difference in your progress now that you are in PT, so keep a positive attitude and do as your therapist tells you. When did your injury occur and did you have surgery.? Best wishes to you in your road to recovery!!!


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