Nov. 24th. I’ve been to physical therapy several times now and know what to expect and am very comfortable. Due to improvements to my condition, I am now able to go 75% weight bearing which means I can use only one crutch on the opposite side of my foot with the Achilles rupture and walk. This is much more natural as I am able to swing my arms the way I would when walking. I always start with scar tissue treatment using the Granston method and deep tissue massage on my calf. Here is a list of exercises I do regularly at physical therapy and at home.
1) Ankle pumps to loosen up the Achilles – 20 times
2) Rotate my ankle – 20 times each direction
3) Write out the alphabet with my toe from A to Z – 2 times
4) Band exercises – various
-dorsiflexion and plantarflexion – 3 x 15
-45 degree plantarflexion inner and outer 3 x 15
-90 degree plantarflexion inner and outer 3 x 15
-clams to work on hip both sides – 3 x 15
5) Picking up marbles with my toes onto a plastic jar
6) Seated calf raisers
I end each session icing my foot to decrease swelling. The physical therapy center uses a GameReady compression machine which really helps. It circulates ice water while compressing on your injury.
This is my personal journey to recovery from a full Achilles rupture on my left foot.
I am 35. male, 6″1′ and 208lbs and in relative good health. On October 13, I was playing basketball when I slipped and felt a pop on my left foot that resonated through my body. It was like a flash went through my entire body including my head. It was an awkward sensation. Something I have never felt before. I slowly manuevered as teammates came alongside me asking if I was ok. I was hoping for my ankle to swell up as it has many times when I sprained my ankle. No chance. My left foot kept shaking, that is when I knew something was really wrong.
I had surgery to repair the rupture on Oct. 23 which went well. I want to document my journey as a support for myself and others who are going through the same thing. I will share how I went through my decision process, Achilles recovery exercises, nutrition, and more.
Feel free to post on the forums section and interact with others alike.
On Oct 13, 2014, I ruptured my left Achilles. At the time of the rupture, I was a healthy 35 year old male, 6′ 2″ and about 210lbs. My physical fitness was semi-active. I work from home but try to manage cycling 1-2 times a week and play full court basketball at least once a week. So I wasn’t completely out of shape but I wasn’t in super great shape either.
In hindsight, I don’t think you can pinpoint the cause of the rupture. I played competitive sports throughout high school and lettered in volleyball, basketball, and soccer all 4 years. I put my body during those years very hard. I was young so I thought. Much of my problems came from my knees but never any foot or ankle problems.
About a year before the rupture, I did see the doctor to have my left Achilles checked out. I often would wake up in the morning with a very stiff left foot. The doctor indicated it there was some swelling on my Achilles and was diagnosed with tendonosis. I was given a few leg strengthening exercises and off I went. One more checkup and the pain went away. Laziness got the better of me and I stopped doing the exercises. At no point did the doctor say there was going to be a risk of a rupture. Thinking back, it was likely precursor to the full rupture.
Here is a timeline view of my blog posts of my recovery.
Just shy of one month since surgery to repair my Achilles, I had my 2nd physical therapy session. I’m still in the boot most of the time but it is nice that I can now take a bath without any concern. Being that this was the 2nd session, I was less nervous. The session started with more observation of the scar and swelling. It still swells especially if I move it a lot of put it down. I have occasional throbbing pain but not as bad as when the first two weeks out of surgery. Steve worked with me using the grastron technique to settle the swelling and scraping the scar tissue. He also helped massage my calf which is actually more painful then my Achilles and worked on my actual surgery scar. He encouraged me to use my fingers to break the tissue around the scar so it won’t heal firm.
Now finally to some exercises. This is the menu I was given which has a list of exercises, movement, and icing.
foot pumps x 30
Write alphabet with my toes x 2
Seated toe raisers
Clam (for my hip)
I’ll upload a video that is probably easier to explain.
I couldn’t find the video that was taken at this time so I just made a new one. Disclaimer, I am not 11 months removed from my surgery so the range of motion will be much more than someone who just had surgery a month back.
Roughly 3 weeks after my Achilles surgery, I had my 2nd post operation appointment with Dr. J. Everything was going smooth. Very little progress was felt on my end as I was still in my boot majority of the time and I was 0% weight bearing which meant I was not allowed to put any weight on it. At most, the only exercise I was getting was just moving my toes and pressing my foot against the boot and sofa. After this appointment, the doctor cleared me to be 50% weight bearing. I honestly wasn’t sure what this meant. After discussing, he explained that I could place my foot on the ground as I used my crutches. This meant a bit of a change in my routine as I was on my iWalk when I moved from point A to B. I now I had have my crutches with me and place my left food on the ground as I moved.
Here is a video on how to walk with 50% weight bearing on the foot with Achilles surgery.
Physical therapy for my Achilles tendon rupture couldn’t come fast enough. I know this would probably be the most difficult part of my recovery, even more difficult than the surgery. I’m not a very patient person. When I want to get things done, I want it done in the fastest and efficient way as possible. This is the exact opposite. Achilles tendon rehab is going to be a long and will require a lot of patience as it heals extremely slow. Slow than bone and muscle.
I was a bit nervous at first but the people at this clinic made it very easy to get acclimated. People were very friendly and every chatted with each other. People of all walks of life were here. You see high school athletes who had an injury playing pep sports to the retired fireman who tore an ACL while mountain biking. Everyone had their war story and how they get there.
I worked with Stephen, an intern who graduated from USC, and was toward the end of his 3 month turn. Stephen was very attentive and worked with a seasoned PT to ensure I was on the right track. As I just had the stitches taken out, there was very little I could do in terms of exercise and how they could work on me. The did spend a lot of time deep tissue massage my calf as it was in pain. They used a scraping tool to help the scar tissue. I believe it is the Graston technique. They scrap the tissue to help the soft tissue align. It also helps with increased blood flow and helps alleviate swelling.
They measured how far back I could pull back my toe without discomfort and measured it for record. There were very little exercise I could do. As for actual exercise, I were to move my toes to stimulate blood flow and push my foot against the boot or the arm of my sofa. That’s it. My physical therapy indicated that the following week I can try some band exercises.
After I was done, I iced my foot and hobbled back on my iWalk2.0.
Nov 4 – Day 11 post Achilles operation first appointment. This was the day I was originally supposed to have my cast removed but I had it removed earlier in the week as I thought it was causing my calf pain. I have been in my boot have been zero weight bearing. To get around, I have been using my iWalk 2.0 but for the most part I stay at home hunkered on my couch with my leg elevated. I cleaned myself by submerging myself in my bathtub which is more like a soaker. I elevate my left foot and tie a garbage bag over it to ensure I do not get it wet. I continued to take both the morphine and the oxycodone. Good news is that I was getting sensation back to my foot and toes. I can actually feel them when I move.
The dr. appointment went smooth. It was a challenge to make my way to the doctor’s office but I just took my time. I initially thought that the stitches would melt away but apparently it had to be removed. Just a nip on one end and tweezers on the other end to pry out the sutures did the trick. It did hurt. Surprisingly, there were two total which had to be removed. I thought there were several but that was it. He then used surgical tape to seal the wound just in case.
Next, the doctor cleared me to begin physical therapy. He asked if I had a place in mind and that they had one right next door which I can try out. I honestly didn’t and it was convenient to be able to check out a place right next door so I went ahead and made an appointment. My first physical therapy session was going to be Nov. 14th. One month after the rupture and 20 days post op. Meanwhile, I continue to move my toes to encourage blood circulation and elevate my foot above my heart to minimize swelling.