Twelve Week Update

I received good news at my last doctor appointment on January 26th. I was ten weeks post-op and concerned about the resting tension of my repaired Achilles. My doctor had me lay on my stomach and bend my knees to a 90 degree angle to check the tension himself. Although he did acknowledge the difference between my involved and uninvolved side, he did not think my recovery would be heavily impacted by the decreased tension. He elected to slow the pace of my rehabilitation so as not to stretch the tendon further, but otherwise felt my strength and range of motion were satisfactory. He even predicted I could be close to full power in about six months!

I was looking forward to my ten-week appointment because I was scheduled to transition from my walking boot into my normal sneaker. While I expected my shoe to be fitted with one heel lift, my doctor instructed me to insert two wedges as an extra precaution. I’ve now been walking boot-free for the past few weeks! It was extremely difficult at first; I almost missed the stability of my boot. Though I still have trouble transferring weight from heel to toe and my ankle swells up on days I am very active, I am making progress. Slowly.

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My therapist taped my Achilles yesterday in an attempt to relieve some of the pain I have when walking. She told me it would be uncomfortable during the taping because she was going to use a technique that required her to push on the tendon during the process. It was definitely uncomfortable, but so far, so good!

I’m now attending physical therapy twice a week. I use an isokinetic testing machine to perform calf extensions and measure my progress. So far my strength has improved by about 12%. I also use the Total Gym to perform heel raises at a declined angle, which is easier than standing heel raises because it takes some of the weight off. Currently, I am only strong enough to raise up on both toes before transferring weight over to my left leg. I then hold that position for 5 seconds before slowly “pulsing” my heel up and down about two inches. Knowing that I am a dancer, my therapist is most concerned with regaining the strength in those last few degrees of plantar flexion. This will enable me to jump on one leg and land with control, keeping my heel from hitting the ground. While I won’t be jumping for quite a while, it’s a good start.

My doctor explained to me how physically demanding this rehab would be, but so far I feel like I’ve just barely scratched the surface. Though I’m still riding a stationary bike and have added a few new weight machines to my repertoire, my doctor hasn’t approved my return to the elliptical or squat rack due to the risk of over-stretching. Thus, cardio and leg days remain extremely dull. My doctor and therapist will meet again a few weeks from now to reassess my activity level, but until then I’ll have to be content doing heel raises. My therapist thinks I might be ready for some jumping exercises before the end of March, though! I’m really looking forward to kicking things up a notch.