My recovery from Achilles tendon rupture

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Air
Aleksi Airinen
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My recovery from Achilles tendon rupture

Post by Air » 02 Jun 2016 06:11

Hello friends,

A lot of people have been asking me about my recovery from Achilles tendon rupture last summer, so I thought I’d write something. As many of you know, I snapped my Achilles tendon last summer at Worlds in Copenhagen while playing footbag net.

Why net, you might ask. The freestyle scene in Finland hasn’t been improving much since maybe about 2012, and no new players have showed up. Nobody is training seriously, with only a handful of players kicking every once in a while. The rest have started playing net or quit altogether. Me, Tuomas and Santeri had been practicing net quite a lot for the past year before Worlds 2015, and it was a lot of fun. It brought progress that freestyle just couldn’t anymore. I felt like in freestyle I had reached a level where to get better I would have to train enormously, and to what end? Competition didn’t really change that much from year to year, and I wasn’t really motivated to compete anymore. Net on the other hand was something new to us, something where we could easily see improvement almost every session. So coming to Worlds 2015, my plan was to compete in net as well as in freestyle. I could still do freestyle routines in between net games and enjoy it.

However on the first day of Worlds 2015, July 26, during my second singles net qualification game, my Achilles tendon snapped. I remember my opponent serving, me taking the serve up and then rushing towards the net for a spike. As I took a rapid step forward, I heard a loud *bang* from my left foot and fell on the floor. I immediately realized that my Achilles tendon had snapped. I was taken to a nearby hospital and examined by a doctor who said my Achilles tendon had been completely ruptured. Because of the European Union, I could just show my Finnish ID and receive the same health care I would back home. Many thanks to the Danish healthcare system! The doctor didn’t recommend surgery, because there would be a risk of infection, and because the tendon should heel by itself if kept in rest. So I was just given a fixed ankle walker boot to keep my ankle in place and was told to visit an orthopedist once I got back to Finland.

When I got back to Finland and saw and orthopedist, he said we should continue with just resting my ankle in a fixed position for 7-8 weeks and my tendon should grow back together. So I just lay home on the couch watching Netflix for two months. After that I got rid of the boot and slowly started walking and going to physiotherapy. However after another two months I still could not walk properly nor rise up to my toes with my left foot. At this point my doctor said I would probably need surgery since the tendon hadn’t healed and ordered me to go to x-ray. The x-ray clearly showed that my Achilles tendon was still in two pieces with a gap in between, meaning zero chance of recovery without surgery. I had surgery at the end of November, four months after the accident. I was operated by one of the best orthopedists in Finland, and he did a good job patching the tendon pieces together. Recovery from the surgery took over two months, during which time I again had a fixed ankle walker boot on and had to use crutches to move around.

Well into March this year I could finally walk normally again, and slowly started exercising again. Writing this, it’s now been six months since the surgery and over ten months since the rupture. I’m still in no condition to play footbag or any other intensive sports that require rapid movements. However I’ve been cycling and going to the gym a lot. I can also jog a little bit but not fast or for long periods, so recovery is pretty slow. Since I basically didn’t use my left calf muscle at all for six months, it lost a lot of muscle mass that still hasn’t completely recovered. One could argue that I needed surgery right after the rupture. However I’m sure the doctors had my best intentions in mind and believed I would recover without needing surgery. I think an x-ray should have been done earlier though, to make sure the tendon has started growing back together. But obviously I had no clue and trusted the doctors’ judgment.

I must be noted that even though my Achilles snapped in footbag net, it could have as well happened in freestyle. What I’ve read and listened to specialists talk about Achilles tendon rupture, it seems it can happen quite unexpectedly and without any prior signs.

My goal now is to recover so well that I can play footbag for fun again, but I doubt I will ever play on the level I was before. As I wrote earlier, my motivation for freestyle had been declining for some time before the tendon rupture already, so I don’t think I will find the motivation to drill and get back into the shape I was in, since it would require so much more effort now. I will still come to Worlds this summer and just have a good time. I have other interests in my life right now, and footbag is more and more a social thing and not about competition, where I get to see my friends that I’ve made over the years. But I never say never.

Aleksi

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Tjuggles
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Re: My recovery from Achilles tendon rupture

Post by Tjuggles » 02 Jun 2016 17:29

Hey,

Great to hear some updates from you. It's interesting how skill level and motivation level aren't really correlated; people become unmotivated at various skill levels.

It would be great to be in a hack circle with you some day, your tendon allowing that is. :)
TJ Boutorwick

"You can do anything" -Greg Nelson

boyle
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Re: My recovery from Achilles tendon rupture

Post by boyle » 02 Jun 2016 23:59

Good luck with the recovery Aleksi, thanks for sharing your recovery experience with us.

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