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Achilles Tendon Rupture Rehab – Week 21

This week I am happy to announce I have a major breakthrough with my rehab.  Co-incidentally I put a pause on my PT appointments.

What’s changed?

There are 3 major changes:

  1. Wobble Board (FitterFirst).
  2. Voodoo band (RogueFitness).
  3. KT Tape.
  4. 100 Forced Reps Seated calf raise.

I had been going to the PT since week 12.  In hindsight, the first PT didn’t provide a lot of value in term of recovery progress.  The second PT took a more hands on approach in problem solving which was great, but the progress was still frustratingly slow.  So I took the matter in my own hands.  Armed with the knowledge from the second PT, I learnt that my posterior tibialis muscle wan’t working properly.  It led to pain in the medial ankle (inside ankle) whenever I tried to do a heel raise.  He prescribed the following arch strengthening and talus bone mobilization exercises.

  1. Arch hold x 10 sec x 30 reps x 3 times.
  2. Bent knee heel raise x 15 reps.
  3. Rubber band strapped on talus bone while doing dorsiflexion stretch x 15 reps.

After the first day of arch hold exercise, my ankle pain was greatly relieved.  I was thrilled it actually fixed the problem.  However, the pain came back after a couple more visits.  The bent knee heel raise didn’t seem to have any effects on my recovery.  The talus mobilization exercise with band seems like a good idea, but for some strange reason, never work for me.

Wobble Board saved the day

I had been playing with the wobble board in the gym since week 16.  My idea was to use the soleus muscle as it is intended to – provide balance and stability.  I started with slowly performing circles with both feet on the board going clockwise and then counter-clockwise.  Then move on to single legged back and fore movement, mimicking single legged heel raise.

It had some effects but not a lot.  Then one day my wife bought a Fitter First Wobble Board for my up coming birthday.  It was a god send.  Even though I had been doing exercises with wobble board for weeks, I had never have a chance to do them in front of a mirror and comparing the muscle movement of my legs like a hawk.  Wow, what a different did it make!

I immediately noticed my right posterior tibialis and gastrocnemius muscles not firing.  You see, I had been banging out heel raises after heel raises by firing my leg muscles in the wrong way.  This action along helped me go back to my weight training root – it’s not about what you do, but how you perform a movement.  I needed to relearn how to fire the right muscles in the right sequence.

Stretching Didn’t Work and it’s Dangerous

From my PT, I learnt that my ankle ROM restriction was mainly due to joint mobilization rather than muscle tendon length.  When I performed the knee to wall stretch, I never felt the stretch on my calf, I only felt compression at the front of the ankle.  It meant the talus bone wan’t sliding back and fore as it supposed to.  What the PT did was to push the talus back by hands while I performed a lunge stretch.  While it worked while I was in the PT office, it quickly slipped back to the origin position the rest of the day.

A little research on the internet raised the question – after the talus bone was push back in place, WHAT is holding it there?  The article mentioned the tibila bone moved to facilitate ankle movement as we walked.  Since the tibila connected the ankle and the knee, it safe to say if my ankle bones were not moving properly, it might mean my knee was not moving properly as well.  It might also mean if my knee if moving properly, my ankle joint would move properly as well.  I immediately put this hypothesis to the test on the track.   As I walked on the track, I consciously monitor and mirror the movement of my non-injured leg.  Ha, that’s exactly what happened, my right knee wasn’t moving the same way my left knee did.  I slowly relearnt the knee movement and it instantly “loosen” up the ankle joint.

How Voodoo band work?

I didn’t buy the Voodoo band for my achilles rehab, I bought it for my golfer elbow.  Since I realized my ankle ROM was a function of joint mobility rather muscle tendon length, I shifted my focus and researches onto ankle joint mobilization.  One of the video from youtube is:

Let me tell you, it worked far better and faster than all the PT manual work combined.  It could feel my ankle bones and ligaments move back to where they are supported to within once session.  I highly recommend it.

KT Tape for arch healing

My PT recommend using orthotic for arch support.  However, I was mainly staying at home barefoot during the day.  I found little use for orthotic.  I used KT Tape in the past for plantar fasciitis, it served similar purpose.