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The Achilles tendon tear injury: Getting back

Achilles tendon tear
The Achilles' tendon. PD image from Gray's Ana...

The Achilles’ tendon. PD image from Gray’s Anatomy, from bartleby.com . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In August last year, I suffered from an Achilles tendon tear for which I had to undergo surgery.

A few months ago, I wrote about being stuck in a (pink) cast. It was a frustrating time for me since I couldn’t do anything. Let alone cook myself a meal, clean or walk without getting really tired. I graduated from the cast and by December I was walking without the crutches. After around 2 weeks, I began physiotherapy for around 21 days to get back the range of motion in the ankle.

However, the process of getting back to full recovery is a long and painful one. I hope this helps anyone who has sustained the injury. I think only those who have undergone the surgery and the rehabilitation process will understand the true nature of this injury, though I know it’s like stating the obvious. While there is no constant pain, there is always an underlying tightness in the area. It doesn’t feel quite right. It’s inflexible around the ankle area, the muscle has become stiff and is very tough. Standing, or doing anything strenuous is bound to aggravate the pain so it’s a constant battle to exercise the area but not overdo it.

Seven months after the injury, I began walking slightly longer distances. In February, I did my first 10k walk at the Auroville marathon and then this month (March) I did a 5k walk. I am still not running as yet as I can’t put full pressure on the ankle. But this is a start.

While there are no fixed dates the doctor will give you for recovery, it’s largely up to you to figure things out. Go with your gut feel and make sure you don’t do anything that might damage your tendon again.

This is my timeline, but it could vary for different individuals

Month 1 – August 2012 – Injury and surgery
Month 1, 2, 3 – August, September, October – In a cast, no movement, no exercise
Month 4 – November, cast removed. Started walking without crutches.
Month 5 – December, physiotherapy for around 21 days (not at one stretch)
Month 6 – Jan 2013 – A lot of travel, some walking and cycling on the trainer
Month 7 – Feb 2013 – First 10 k walk after injury
Month 8 – March 2013, 5k walk and first cycle ride of 20 kms. Also, began Pilates sessions two days a week to help strengthen core, especially back, legs, calf muscles etc.

This has been my progress and it’s been slow (much slower than I initially thought). But reading and researching the injury online has given me some more insight and the realization that it is a long process.

If I look back, it will probably be one year before I completely recover (and I am hoping!). But at that point of time, I would never have thought that it would take so long. The only thing you can do under the circumstances is to have lots of patience.

My recovery continues. I plan to keep doing Pilates so I can strengthen a lot of my muscles I lost due to months of inactivity. And get back on the cycle. My next aim is to do at least a 50 km ride without pain or major fatigue. Baby steps as they say!

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