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I was in sparring class doing a basic drill (switch stance into a rear leg front kick) and blew out my right Achilles with a complete rupture.

I had surgery to repair it about 4 weeks ago. I am currently on crutches, but I will be walking starting in two weeks, along with physical therapy and other therapy.

Has anyone had/recovered from this surgery and still competed? What do you do for preventive measures. Do you tape the area or do something else? If I recall correctly from my school days, I don't think there is a specific Achilles support taping, but I was curious if anyone else had had anything recommended to them.

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They're not that uncommon among ballet dancers, so assuming you know any you could ask them about it too. – Robin Ashe Jul 5 '12 at 17:35

2 Answers 2

Stretching the calves and alternating exercise type from high impact (running) to low impact (walking and swimming) can help prevent them from happening again. Avoid jumping type movements or hill runs. I've known more than one person that has had this injury due to box jump exercises. Slowly ramp up the training intensity during recovery to avoid re-injury.

Explain to the physical therapist that your exercise goals are around TKD and the type of movements involved. Have them come up with a plan to get you back to doing those activities. Of course they could also tell you "No, you really don't want to be doing those movements anymore).

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That does make sense. I was back in class for the first time in a long time (I'd been doing triathlons for a couple years) when this happened. I've been stretching regularly for a long time. I'm wondering if it's not a relation between returning to TKD and worn out padding on my run training shoes. FWIW, it ruptured on a drill we'd already done about 6 rotations of in the class. – JohnP Jun 27 '12 at 17:15
It is always the last time on the drill.. As I've said I've known people that have done this on box jumps, and they have done box jumps hundreds of times in the past. Suddenly the stars aligned and poof, injury. – Wayne In Yak Jun 27 '12 at 17:17
Yeah, that's the worrying bit :D And of course it's always the last time, if you didn't get injured you'd still be doing the drils... heh! – JohnP Jun 27 '12 at 17:36

As an update for anyone experiencing the same thing:

There are two types of repair:

  1. Self attachment - The leg is put in a position for the tendon to graft itself, then progressively moved towards a foot neutral position before rehab begins.
  2. Surgical attachment - Tendon is sutured together.

Option #2 is recommended if you want to regain the full function/mobility, as #1 may or may not restore full function. However, the older you are, the more they push towards #1 (I was 45 at the time). I chose #2.

Rehab is a minimum of a year. I was able to start running within about 5 months of the surgery. What they are most concerned about is landing toes first with full weight, and using the calf/achilles to land. So, no jumping style kicks for a minimum of a year. Non weight bearing for 8-12 weeks, and then very slow, cautious use of the leg in various rehab exercises. Biggest concern is sudden landing on the foot, so as such, was in a boot for nearly 3 months.

Side effects - Foot has to be retrained to walk straight, calf wasting, binding of skin/tissue at scar site.

I was fairly lucky, in that I was able to regain 100% mobility and function. I pursued rehab as if I were getting 1 on 1 coaching/training, and did everything I was supposed to (Plus a little more, don't tell my surgeon). Nearly 2 years after completing surgery and rehab, I am back to full competition, although I am still cautious on some drills such as the jump switch/kick combo.

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