Return to cycling after Achilles Rupture Surgery
On Sunday, November 20th, I ruptured my achilles tendon while playing backyard football. Over the last few years, I’ve gotten to know many of you as I have gotten to know and love cycling. The purpose of this thread is to see if any of you have had surgery on an achilles rupture so I can know what to expect from my cycling future.
If no one on the board has any insight, then I hope to keep posting on this thread to document my progress for others that plan to rupture their achilles in the future.
So, first, here is a little about me and my recent history:
I am a 32 year-old male that has been cycling for the last 4 years or so. I have 3 year-old twin girls and I live in the suburbs (Irwin), so I cycle as hobby when possible and as a way of life or rare occasions when everything goes right.
I’m 5’9″ and a little over 200lbs… I’m active, so I’m not out of shape, but I’m also not a marathon runner either. I’m an average guy.
As I said, I ruptured the tendon on Sunday, November 20, and had the surgery to repair it on Wednesday, November 23.
Also, it may be helpful for others to know what kind of care I’m taking. With the twins and my career, I’m not laying around with my leg up like I’m supposed to. I can’t drive, but I’m still staying active. In fact, two days after my surgery, I went to NYC and crutched around for the weekend. I’m working from home, but that’s been driving my crazy, so I’ve been taking the bus downtown and working as normal every other day.
So, my first follow-up doctor visit is this thusday. I’ll be sure to let everyone know how my lack of resting diligence is affecting my healing.
And more specifically to this board, I’ll be keeping you up-to-date on my future return to cycling.
Thanks for listening.
At the risk of sounding too obvious, you should consult a physical therapist. I would imagine you were provided with one after your surgery. If not, definitely talk to your doctor about it.
Shawn, I gad noticed that you had gone quiet, but if you had posted previously about your injury, I missed it. Sorry to hear the news. I always think of that as a particularly undesireable injury, although I don’t know why. I am sure you’ll get some of the information you seek from the members here. I can’t offer anything except my hopes that you experience a quick and full recovery.
CD- Yes, I’m working with the Pittsburgh Othopedic Associates group, and after they clear me, I will be doing a lot of therapy I hear.
So, I was here just looking to see if anyone else had that same experience, if not, I wanted to share mine over the next few month…specifically from a cycling standpoint for this board for future reference.
There are a lot of blogs on the internet about general recovery from this, but I wanted to share how this injury affects cycling with this community.
@swalfoort – my recent silence has had more to do with a new job in July with a much longer commute and more responsibility. I’ve been trying not to spend all day reading the message board haha.
Shawn, while not the same surgery, I have also recently (Dec 1) had an operation on my foot. I had bone spurs removed from the big toe joint, and had the joint fused. So I’m now the proud owner of a plate and six screws.
I did a lot of digging around before my surgery to learn about the recovery. I just did a similar search for achilles surgery, and found this site:
Hopefully you can find some good reading on there. Listen to the docs, realize that you still have a lifetime of riding in front of you, and you’ll be back in the saddle in no time.
That’s what I’m telling myself anyway…
@aj – Sorry to hear about your injury, and I wish you the best. I also hope you continue to update this thread with your progress.
My first thought for any orthopedic procedure.
Typically, a good P.T. will be happy to have a heart-to-heart with you about any physical issues you have, not just the one you present with. They can recommend a regular regimen of stretching and exercise for after the “rehab” period is over.
Get a P.T. recommended by other patients. The individual P.T. is important. You will spend much, MUCH more time with your PT than with your doctor. A good PT can do magic. Reputable institutions often have both great and sucky PT’s.
Hey Shawn, checking in…how is your recovery coming along?
I will be 6 weeks post-surgery on Thursday, and will visit the doc for marching orders (pun maybe not intended.) HOPEFULLY he’ll tell me that I can ride again on platform pedals. In another 6 weeks, I should be ready to clip in and go. Fingers crossed.
Thursday was my 6 week post-op appointment, and I am still in the walking boot until my 8 week appointment. Nothing hurt until this point when they took a lot of support out of the boot to stretch the tendon.
I haven’t had any rehab yet, but I’m been pretty agressive on my own. At home, for the last week or two, I’ve been walking as much as I can WITHOUT the boot and doing some light stretching myself. I don’t recommend this, I guess, but it’s working for me.
I hope to find out more about riding when the boot comes off on the 19th. From what I’ve heard from PTs I know, the motion of the cycling isn’t the issue with my achillies…. I think they are more concerned that I’m going to jump off quickly and tear it again.
I’m glad to be almost done with the WAITING period…. can’t wait to do something with it.
Glad you are doing well. Perhaps we will have some rehab rides in a month or two.
My friend Kyle ruptured his achilles about 5 or 6 years ago playing pickup basketball. He went through a fair amount of physical rehab, but he was back to riding a bike fairly soon afterward. I can check with him and get back to you.
Hang in there Shawn. I keep telling myself that I have thousand of miles in front of me, so another few weeks/days won’t matter. My doc said the same thing about my injury; cycling won’t hurt it, but falling and planting suddenly on the ball of my foot could cause the fusion to weaken. Everything I’ve read, and every time I’ve asked, six weeks has been the point at which the fusion either fuses or doesn’t, and 90% of the time, it does. I’ve been good at ice and elevation (and some red wine to calm me down) so hopefully Thursday will be good news for me.
Good luck on the 19th, keep us posted!
Checking in…how was your appointment on the 19th? Mine was good, doc gave me permission to ride but only with platform pedals until I see him again on Feb 23. So I’m riding the trainer dutifully, with my platform pedals and my shiny new cycling sandals. So far so good.
Hope the news was good for you too…
Tomorrow will be 9 weeks and my second physical therapy appointment. The PT had me ride the exercise bike for 10 min with no special platforms or anything. Only stretches on my off days for now.
I asked him about riding outside, and he said that he would re-evaluate in 2 weeks, and if I was along well enough, he would ask the surgeon to ok it.
It’s amazing that my left leg is measuring two inches larger than my right in the calf muscle now!
Glad to hear you are getting along well, too.
I’ll keep in touch.
@Shawn – glad to hear the news is mostly good.
Your comment <<It’s amazing that my left leg is measuring two inches larger than my right in the calf muscle now!>> reminded me of when I was rehabbing my right leg after breaking the fibula.
At one of my last appointments, the Dr said something like “and look, the two calves are almost exactly the same size. It’s rare to see such symmetry. That’s a very good thing. It means your (bad) leg is now as strong as your good leg.
I laughed at him and told him it was a good thing from an aesthetic perspective, but that I knew from years of soccer that my right (dominant) leg was stronger and therefore larger than my uninjured leg. I estimated myself to be about 90 percent back to where I had been, strength-wise.
You know, I found his comment funny at the time. I should have found it appalling, as it was coming from a sports medicine kinda guy……
Keep working on strength and size parity! Hope to see you on the roads again soon!
Shawn 2012 goal: pull the little-uns in a flock ride.
Glad to here you are both doing well – keep up the good rehab…
It’s good to hear recovery reports. Very valuable information. Please keep these up.
Thanks everyone. @Marko – That goal is harder and harder every day… they just aren’t so little anymore. Need to make sure it a non-hilly ride. Me+bike+trailer+twins = about 350lbs of mass.
So a couple of notes…. going into week 10 post op, the PT cleared me to ride the exercise bike for as long as I was comfortable. They still don’t want me riding outside for a few weeks, but I have no indoor limitations.
I also had an interesting conversation with the PT. I told you all before that I pushed myself way beyond what the doctor said I was allowed to do. When I was zero weight bearing, I put 40% weight on the foot with the boot. When I was allowed 40% I stopped using crutches all together and walked on the boot all day. I took the boot off weeks early and walked around my house.
According to the PT, these actions have put me in an amazing position today. HOWEVER, I can’t recommend this action – and the doctor and PT certainly would not. This is risky. Pushing it kept it strong, but if I would have made one mistake, I could have re-ruptured it. Just something to think about if it happens to you.
12 Weeks Post Op – did two short outdoor rides this weekend in a hilly neighborhood. Felt fine except for standing to crank up steeper hills. Kept it around 30 min because doctor won’t offically clear me until my appointment on the 28th.
Good news indeed. Just be smart about it. There’s a fine line between pushing yourself & pushing yourself too far. Besides, the road will always be there waiting.
No worries there….No cardio since before Thanksgiving has caused me to “bulk up” a bit haha. Lungs are way more likely to give out before the leg at this point!
Week 14 Update: I had a visit to the doctor today, and he said I could begin biking on flat trails (but don’t push it). He also said I could/should do some yoga.
I’m still swelling up, and I have some tendonitis around the inner ankle from compensating for the achilies, but all in all, things are going well.
See you on the trail….
If anyone is interested in some light riding after work downtown 5:30 or later during the next few weeks… let me know. Probably sticking to 5-7 miles or so.
Shawn: you may want to talk to Richard Gartner (posts on here occasionally) with regards to the yoga. Great instructor, offers classes specifically geared towards cyclists and runners, and is a cyclist himself…he may have insight into good yogic options for you.
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