I’m finally feeling like I am at the end of recovery (almost). I’m able to run on the alter G now with fairly normal speed up to 80 percent un weighted. Ironically the Achilles on either side isn’t eh part of my legs that gets the most tired or sore, so I take that as a good sign.
I am able to bike almost normally. What is hard is the standing and not letting my ankle drop at the bottom of my pedal stroke because the calf is just not strong enough to push with just the forefoot. At first I thought my saddle was off (too high) but then it occurred to me that if my heel wasn’t able to stay up, it was going to feel high. I flew out to see Mat Steinmetz who was kind enough to do a fit review for me and confirm my suspicions. We decided to leave the bike in the optimal position and then I would just try to work on the strength and or ride other things until I could hold the position. That was 2 weeks ago and already yesterday I rode 92 miles with Tanya in the position, so things are progressing quickly now I hope.
Standing on the bike is tough because all the pressure is on the forefoot again and I end up supporting a lot of weight on my hands over the handlebars. That too is getting better. Finally on the bike, when mountain biking I can’t ride off road very much because I don’t have the strength to hold my ankle tight all the time so when going over bumps etc. it feels “loose” and can be a bit painful. No worries, it too is getting better and I can stick to smoother roads for now.
I went to see the surgeon the other day and was told I had the ALL CLEAR! Said I can run, or do whatever I want at this point. I had asked about waiting until I run until I was able to do 3 x 25 single leg toe raises. He said that due to our procedure we used and the extent at which he cut off my heel that I could start to run now and that I am in no real danger of the injury returning. He did say he would lay off the run until I could have a pretty normal gait, or at least not limp so I didn’t cause other compensation issues.
Note: I had a pretty extensive repair. On my left side he said despite having done the procedure hundreds of times, it was in the top 3 worse he had seen. So if you have a lesser surgery I would check on your own return to run protocol. I know if the tendon becomes too tight or weak it can lay down the same injury again, so double check that
Last week I decided to run 1 min, then walk 2. It was very slow, but I was able to “Shuffle/jog” for much longer periods with no pain and made it 4.5 miles! I have run up to 3 miles 2 more times since then and the pace is around 9:30 pace for the most part. Not blazing, but legit “jogging”. The Achilles has no pain which still blows me away as I can’t remember not having pain, but the peripheral stuff gets weak and fatigued and still have some “nerve” pain which causes me to pause and take some breaks. I also do not have the forefoot strength to really push off so I am definitely more on my heels then before, but the strength will come and I have been using the alter g to remember good fast run form.
I also want to point out even about 3-4 weeks ago I felt like today would never come. Its not an easy road and it I am sure I still have setbacks ahead of me but the healing is not linear. That’s the hardest part. You’ll feel one week like you will never get back, then 4 days later feel remarkably better. So don’t think your progress is limited to a set trajectory. I also would have a few days here and there where I would be pretty pissed off at my situation and angry. I would get discouraged with people trying to encourage me, or try to tell me it would be fine. Go ahead and feel like that sometimes, you deserve it! It does suck to rehab. If It didn’t, more people would go fix stuff. However, you have to snap out of it and figure out something to focus on other than feeling sorry for yourself.
I have a lot of people to thank. My awesome with Tanya has been almost too supportive and positive through all of this. I couldn’t have done it without her. I’m also convinced some of her oil concoctions have made a huge difference. I’m about 8 weeks ahead of recovery schedule right now.
Not only that but her clinic where she works has amazing systems for rehab. They even do PRP now. Pain and Wellness Group out of Plainfield and Villa Park is truly committed to athletes.
Achieve Physical Therapy has been amazing. Gina has been pretty busy with life and helping Olympians but left me in great hands. Taylor and Lindsey have been awesome PTs to work with. They know all the tricks. Dry needling, Graston, massage, exercises, stretching, Alter G, etc. 2 x a week they put me back together. I continue to be so grateful.
Dr. Ginsberg has been on my adjustments for chiropractic since before day one! He was able to keep my hips in line while off center in the boot for almost 3 months. He kept my back and neck feeling fine the entire time as well. I literally had no issue with the crutches, or the boot thanks to him. He even manipulates the ankle now to make sure it stays all lined up.
Garrett Krug, my strength trainer has continued to look for ways to bridge the PT/ strength training gap. To say he is just a strength trainer is not enough. He not only has a 4-year degree in this stuff, but is CONSTANTLY educating himself on new techniques. He went so far as to come to some of my rehab sessions to talk to the PTs to make sure what he was doing lined up with what they wanted.
Dr. Vora, my surgeon. I can’t believe how good this guy is. Not only is he good but he has a system for closing surgeries that I swear I barely even have a scar. If we are being honest, I was worried I would have Frankenstein looking calves and ankles. Not even close. He is blunt, to the point, but effective!
Paul Bishop has not only found my surgeon for my case but has made me the best running orthotics I have ever had. They were so good I got Tanya a pair and combined with some new coaching methods will be the first year she has made 12 months’ injury free!
I write this and seems like I am thanking a lot of people, but that’s what it takes. Don’t do things half way. If you want to get better, go all in. Invest in yourself.