- November 11, 2013: I’m healed! You can see my full write-up, along with the protocol I used to heal/strengthen the tendon here.
- October 6, 2013: A couple of weeks of no noticeable improvement until I took the risk of playing a round of non-competitive tennis. That stressing of the tendon seems to have helped! Read more here.
- September 19, 2013: Sorry to say that there really hasn't been any noticeable change since my last update a week ago. Same story: sore in the morning when I first wake up, but after a few minutes of walking the soreness is gone and I only feel it again when I first stand up after sitting for a while. I *think* that the reason I've not seen any improvement is because I have been working it much harder the past week. In fact, last weekend I jogged a full mile non-stop. That's the first real jogging I've done since re-injuring it. I think that, along with the nightly soccer practice with the kids, along with the eccentric heel drops, is inflaming the achilles. Long-term, that's probably a good thing to get the blood flow there. That said, I recall the Physical Therapist and Doctor insisting during my last recovery that I do not run until it is completely pain free for 2 full weeks. I believe that included mornings. So I'm going to put aside the dream of running a 5k anytime soon, and stick to my weightlifting routine : )
- September 12, 2013: Was hoping that, based on my last update, I'd be able to proclaim by now that I'm fully healed. But alas, still some morning soreness and even a little throughout the day when first walking after sitting a while. But, I attribute this to the heavily increased physical activity I've embarked upon since the last update. I did run a fairly quick quarter-mile at the track the other night, after doing some light jogging and passing drills with a soccer ball with my son to warm up. I felt some pain the entire quick lap, so I decided to wait another week or two before I try jogging for jogging's sake. Of course, each night I'm at each of my kids' soccer practices and am doing some light running but am mainly on my feet and active more now than before. And while at night, after the physical activity is over, I am a little sore, it's no worse the next day. So now I think I'm just in a 'wait it out' period where I can keep being active and hope/expect that over time the pain will eventually go away completely. I'm still very optimistic.
- September 9, 2013: Even more improvement! Feeling great! Read full update here.
- September 3, 2013: Since it's been a while since my last update I wrote a longer update post. Check it out here.
- August 28, 2013: A temporary setback it seems. So a couple of days ago I wrote about how great things were progressing, and they were...so much so that I got a little too aggressive with my activity later that day. First, I extended my time in the gym by adding more stretches and added an extra 5 minutes to my elliptical time.
Still felt great, so I decided to go to the soccer field with my kids and kick the ball around a bit. Problem is, my kids aren't the most accurate passers, often by choice. Feeling frisky, I decided to try some jogging to retrieve the ball. It was sore but doable. We played for about 30 minutes and then went home. I felt the soreness come on and was a little worried, but figured it'd be fine the next day after a night's rest and the usual morning stiffness has passed.
Next day, all throughout the day, it remained sore. A typical day now has soreness when I first wake up, and I simply flex my ankle for 30 seconds in bed and then it takes only a minute or two on my feet for the soreness to go away. I may feel some 'twinges' of soreness throughout the day but mostly I don't have to think about it at all. But the past two days I had the soreness throughout the day, which was a good warning to me that I overdid it and need to watch it.
So yesterday morning I swallowed my pride and put the foam heel inserts back into my sneakers. I also resisted going to the gym. By 4 o'clock it was feeling pretty darn good - back to the usual 'once in a while twinge' when first standing/walking after sitting for a while, but otherwise good. Last night I went to the track to walk. I love going to the track and walking - been doing it, when I can, for the past couple of years. It allows me to both collect my thoughts and reflect but also to simply 'zone out' by listening to podcasts or music on my headphones.
I walked 3 miles and it felt pretty darn good. Slight soreness the first half mile but then good. This morning, so far, it feels great. Lesson learned: no jogging until there is NO soreness or "twinges" of pain/soreness at all throughout the day. Maybe even have to wait until the morning tightness is no longer there.
- August 26, 2013: Getting better every day! See this full post for the update.
- August 23, 2013: Improved! Getting better daily. Since the last update a couple of days ago, I have noticed even more improvement. Today being the best day since re-injuring it, in terms of pain (lack of it, actually) and strength in the ankle/tendon area. Have not had any 'twinges' of pain or even noticed it while sitting today, which is the first time I can recall that ever being the case. So the past two days I continued my protocol of stretching along with some eccentric heel drops, and also 20 to 30 minutes on an elliptical trainer. The primary purpose of the elliptical trainer is to move the ankle and mildly stretch it, my theory being that bloodflow will increase to the area as a result. On Monday and Tuesday I also did some self-ART and I definitely think that helped. On Tuesday and Wednesday it was probably more sore as a result but yesterday was much improved and today is downright great and very encouraging. Later today/tonight I'll go to the gym and do the same (along with some weightlifting, which I started again this week). Starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel - it feels great today and just stronger everyday. I'm cautiously hopeful and if it keeps improving at this rate I may be able to start a walk/jog routine (basically similar to a "couch to 5k" program). I did that last time with success.
- August 21, 2013: Last night and this morning I noticed slight improvement. Slightly less pain. I'm happy with the progress. Getting more aggressive with stretching seems to be paying off, now that the acute pain is not there. As I wrote in a post yesterday, I expanded my workout a couple of days ago and refined it some. During yesterday's routine the pain was definitely much less than the day before. Not even close. Monday on the elliptical was flat-out painful. Yesterday I started with the stationary bike, then stretched lower body (calves, quads, hamstrings), did eccentric heel drops, and foam rolled my calves. Then got on the elliptical trainer for 20 minutes. I'm not a big fan of cardio for all kinds of reasons, but for the purpose of stretching out and 'aggravating' my achilles insertion point, which is the goal to induce blood flow and therefore healing, then I think it might be beneficial. Today I'll do the same warm-up and stretching but then get some weightlifting in. Strength training my upper body has nothing to do with my achilles, but too important to not do it. If I'm up for it I'll do the elliptical after.
- August 20, 2013: Yesterday I finally plunged in and got back in the gym. I really stressed my achilles tendon for the first time since re-injuring it, by doing a lot of stretching (mainly straight-legged gastroc), but also by doing 30 minutes on the elliptical. I'll write a full post on that, but suffice to say that after the short workout, my tendon/heel was aching pretty much the rest of the night. I was worried. Laying down last night to go to sleep, it was more sore than it had been in quite some time. But, I woke up to a little *less* pain than usual. Not drastically reduced, but slightly better - it felt "stretched out" more. After my usual hot shower, it felt good. Throughout this morning so far it's felt pretty good. Definitely improved over the last couple of days. So, with that to bolster my confidence, I plan on hitting the gym again later today and continue to stretch.
- August 19, 2013: So the past couple of days the soreness, while being very dull, has been pretty consistent. Was hoping it would go away for the bulk of the day at least, but it hasn't. This morning, when I woke up, I thought to myself that the next step is to resume doing the active release therapy on it again (on my own for now, hoping to not have to go back to the PT's office and beg for just ART with no supervised stretching). While in the shower I felt the back of my heel for the first time in a week or so and noticed that there are some major "bumps" or "granules" - not sure what the heck to call them, in there. They're softer and larger than I recall before, which *I think* is probably a good thing as it means they'll be easier to smash apart. (you can tell I'm no doctor with my terminology! : ). So tonight I need to carve out time to focus on ART. I've been so busy that I just haven't focused on this thing, aside from doing the eccentric heel drops. The ART by the PT was what really started the recovery last time, so I need to buckle down and just do it. Will start today and just smash the shit out of this thing using my thumb and then maybe a frozen orange that I've had in the freezer for this purpose. Should work well with these bumps now. They felt loose and quite pronounced when I went over them this morning with my thumb. Of course, I expect that after working them over tonight, my heel will be even more sore for a couple of days. That's partially my excuse for avoiding it in the first place.
- August 16, 2013: Exactly one month ago, I woke up to a throbbing achilles tendon, after re-injuring it the night before. In lieu of a daily update, I'm going to recap what has happened so far over the past month. So check out the post.
- August 13. 2013: Very little soreness ALL DAY! Very encouraging! Last night, around 8pm or so, I noticed that the soreness had mostly disappeared. Went to bed and woke up with less soreness than usual. When I got up there was less soreness than usual when first walking. Best part is that the soreness stayed minimal all day! Did my eccentric heel drops of course. I'm at a point now where I have to rig up a backpack with some weight, because there is no pain and I'm finding the 3 sets of heel drops to be too easy. This is the first time since re-injuring the tendon that I've had a complete day without a lot of pain. Hopefully this continues, as tomorrow morning I leave with the family to go to the a hotel on the beach, so between the 2 hour drive to and from (with flexed ankle and heel angled onto the floorboard, I find that driving is often pretty uncomfortable now), along with 2 full days on the beach and the pool and walking the boardwalk at night. Wish me luck!
- August 12, 2013: Sore most of the day. I can feel my ankle/tendon getting stronger, meaning that there is a noticable increase in the amount of pressure I have to put on it before the soreness is more pronounced. Did my eccentric heel drops today. Didn't stretch - I have to get into the habit and make it a priority to stretch. I think it's at the point where stretching will help me progress and get this thing healed up.
- August 11, 2013: I have two kids ages 8 and 10, and I also happen to like soccer. Which makes having to give up playing myself, due to this achilles, all the more annoying. But my whining aside, yesterday was a kids soccer tournament for my daughter's team. Four games, one starting at 8am and the last one starting after 5pm, made for a VERY long day. And, aside from maybe an hour or two total, I spent the rest of the time on my feet. Sometimes juggling a soccer ball. In the morning, the achilles felt same - sore, but functional. Knowing I would be on my feet most of the day, I put in the heel lifts. Felt better immediately. Went to the tournament and was on my feet all day. About 3 or 4pm, I noticed that my achilles felt great - no pain at all and greater flexibility.
Around 7pm that night, we were home and it still felt great - no pain at all and great flexibility still. To capitalize on the opportunity, even though I was pretty tired and drained from standing around all day in the hot sun, I decided to go to the track and walk. Walked 2 miles, and also did some gastroc stretches and my 2nd round of eccentric heel drops for the day. Towards the last half-mile I could feel a little soreness in my achilles but all in all it was a wonderful night. Woke up this morning to the usual soreness again but still feel an improvement. Will continue adding more stretching into the routine as well as the eccentrics. An encouraging day!
- August 10, 2013: Went to Six Flags Great Adventure yesterday with my wife and kids. Got there around 11:30am and by 4:30 my feet were aching - not the achilles but from just not being used to walking so much. My achilles did bother me most of the day. Not sure why, but it was annoying pretty much all day. Since I was busy from the time I woke up until we got back pretty late last night, I didn't do my eccentric heel drops. I should have, but too tired/lazy.
Today, so far, the achilles pain is a little 'duller' than yesterday. A definite improvement. Did my first round of heel drops earlier and will do the second later. Also, I started adding in a straight leg gastroc stretch after the eccentric heel drops. I'm still not sure whether this is smart (I am leaning towards thinking that it is just prolonging the tendon pain), but with the tendon not being as sore as before I figure I'll give it a shot and see if it helps speed recovery along. If, in a few days, it's worse, then I'll know my answer and will stop the stretching until the pain is completely gone.
Also, I took out the heel lifts. Figure that would provide a gentle stretch throughout the day. I think the goal for now will be to keep up with the eccentric heel drops, but add in some gentle stretching and see where it goes. Also, unless pain increases tomorrow, then I am going to start walking. I used to love going to the local running track and walking 2 to 4 miles per evening. Hoping it isn't too soon to resume that. May put the heel lifts back in during the walk and see.
- August 8, 2013: Pain is a little worse than yesterday but not by much. I think the increase is due to two things:
One great thing, and a reason I know I am progressing/recovering, is that the super-sensitive/painful spot on the heel is getting smaller. So this makes digging into it with an ice cube a lot less painful than before, but as a result I'm just digging that much harder. This is one activity where "no pain = no gain" is true, I think. I'm at the point where I am going to focus on lengthening the tendon somehow. Found an good article here that outlines, basically, the guidelines that I'm following during recovery. It's great that they clearly differentiate insertional from regular achilles tendonitis. What I don't understand is how all of these articles say it's fine to keep running with it. If I tried running today I would probably keel over in agony and set my recovery back to zero. This leads me to believe that I must have a much more mangled tendon than most with this injury. Sucks, but it's getting better. Trying to stay positive. Going to foam roll my calves tonight and no ART. If I wake up tomorrow and it is better then I'll be thrilled, as I'll be pretty certain that today's slightly increased pain over yesterday was due to the ART and soccer practice last night.
- I coach my son's U-9 soccer team, and last night was a practice. So I was on my feet for 2.5 hours, sometimes having to walk quickly (to get out of the way!).
- After practice was over, I did some ART on the insertion point using an ice cube, to induce as much pain (and therefore healing) as possible.
- August 7, 2013: I must be doing something right! Woke up to greatly reduced pain. After about 10 minutes, no pain when walking in sneakers (with heel lifts)! No pain when I did the 3 sets of eccentrics this morning!!! Slight 'twinge' but not sharp at all when walking sometimes but SO MUCH BETTER than just yesterday. Couldn't be more happy with my progress after just two days of this new protocol. Did the eccentric heel drops the past two days, along with active release therapy (me digging into and aggravating the insertion point with my thumbs and ice cube). Last night around 6pm the pain all of a sudden reduced to zero when just sitting or standing! Very encouraged.
- August 6, 2013: Still VERY sore. Based on all research I've been doing on my own, and the contradictory opinions (sometimes contradicting themselves, let alone each other) between the Sports Medicine specialists, Ortho doc, and physical therapists, I've decided to ditch them all and go with a protocol of flat ground heel drops and doing my own active release therapy. Will eventually start stretching once pain is gone. Today is day two of doing the flat ground heel drops.
- August 5, 2013: Met with Sports Medicine Doctor this morning. Reaffirmed that this is chronic, will likely come and go. He told me I should stop playing soccer, forever. Said it was probably worst sport I can play with this condition. Prescribed traditional eccentric heel drops (the kind where you hang off the step and stretch the tendon). Nice guy but seemed contradictory - one minute said stretching of the tendon is needed, next minute saying we want to minimize the stretch. He also advised I stop the PT and just do stretches on my own. I left deciding to research and come up with my own protocol to finally fix this.
- August 4, 2013: Pain is slightly better today but still very annoying. Anxious to see Sports Med doc tomorrow, but I don't expect any new news. Will ask him if PT with focus on stretching and massage is better than ART. Have my doubts.
- August 3, 2013: Pain still not subsiding. Met with PT again; received deep, painful massage to calf. Lots of stretching on my own prior (very awkward - why do I pay to show up and stretch, without any guidance, for most of these sessions when I can just do it at my home?!?). She said she's pleased with my progress so far but recommends I continue 2 or 3x per week. I leave and make appointments for following week, but am having doubts...
- August 1, 2013: Another phys therapy appointment; calf massage was very painful - still aching from the previous session. No benefit so far - achilles feels worse, and calf soreness is still so bad it is tougher to walk regardless of achilles. PT did not do ART, which has me concerned. ART was all that worked before.
- July 29, 2013: Pain is a little worse today. Met with new Phys Therapist for first time. Did full interview as if I were new patient. I mentioned I had success with prior phys therapist at same office, particularly due to active release therapy. She recommended protocol of massage and stretching. Once interview was done, she showed me a bunch of stretches - gastroc, both straight and bent leg, along with others. Then she did some very light ART on achilles - I think that's what she was doing anyway. I asked her how long for recovery and she asked how long it took last time. I said 5 months. She replied, "It will take 5 months this time, most likely." Concerned.
- July 26, 2013: Pain worsened last night and today. Can't wait to go home. Aside from this achilles, because of things out of my control (in-laws, dog catches fleas, rental house sucks), this was not a good vacation. Will be glad to get home and begin treatment.
- July 23, 2013: Day three of vacation and I wake up to the swelling being mostly gone and a reduction in pain. Still very sore to walk but pain comes and goes, varying in intensity. But I can walk without complete agony! : ) I stop taking the Advil that I had taken the prior days. The pain is now tolerable and I can function (i.e., walk) again. Painful, but doable. I'll take it.
- July 20, 2013: Pain is even worse. Didn't think that was possible. Regardless, I can walk but with a stiff leg (cannot flex ankle at all) and have no choice but to pack the van and begin the ~3 hour drive to the rented beach house. Painful to keep my foot on the pedals entire drive, but made it. Went to the pool that night with family and noticed that, after a short while in the warm water of the pool, my achilles felt much better. Likely due to walking in the pool. Feeling encouraged.
- July 19, 2013: Woke up in throbbing pain. Achilles is definitely hosed again. Not sure if it is torn or just re-aggravated from before, but pain is worse this time than it was last time I injured it. Start vacation at beach house tomorrow. That is not good. Couldn't be worse timing. Called Sports Med doctor office to get appointment that day. He wasn't available. Afternoon comes and pain is worse, so wife urges me to go to Emergency Room. I do and they confirm it is not fully torn, give x-ray and say that's negative, and then send me home in soft splint/cast, a Rx for an addictive pain reliever that I throw away, and crutches that I can't walk with because they are not the correct size for my height. Nurse tells me I will likely need the pain relievers this weekend. Ugh.
- July 18, 2013: Tonight was weekly indoor soccer match. Knowing I was going on vacation in 2 days, I was nervous - had an ominous feeling regarding injury. Arrived to find no air conditioning in the building and it was a heat wave this week. Inside temp was at least 115 degrees. Boiling hot - players exhausted and laying on ground from prior matches. I play. With 10 minutes to go I'm walking on the pitch and feel my achilles throbbing. No 'pop', no warning. It just started throbbing in pain. I knew I had reinjured it and this was likely my last match for a long time, if ever.
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