*See comments for most recent updates on my progress – updated 10/1/07.
Case Study: I have had multiple surgeries on my Achilles tendon (two on one side and one on the other) along with long term acute bouts of tendonitis over a period of 30 years. The surgeries worked by removing bone spurs on my calcaneous (heel bone). This spring, after four months off with a minor tear in my achilles tendon I returned. My orthopedist (so-called sports medicine specialist) did not exactly endorse my return to activity (I listened to my body and weighed the risks). I was fitted for orthotics (I eliminated a root cause).
My first week I “ran” two times and these runs were 400-800 meters of jogging and walking. Other than some tightness I felt no pain. (I listened to my body). The following week I jogged 4-6 x 400 meter intervals (2:00-2:30 each – very slow for me) and walked around for about a minute in between. I also ran for 1-2 miles consecutively at 8:30-10:00 per mile pace. Some days that I ran two or three miles it was split between some morning and some evening running. I find that I do much better with consistent running than lengthy breaks or complete rest days (I listened to my body and how my Achilles stays supple with reduced tightness.)
I am reasonably diligent in doing my rehab exercises (one-legged balance and strength stuff) at least 2-4 times a week (I worked on root cause). I was advised to do them daily but they made me so sore I couldn’t do that (I listened to my body). After three weeks I could run 2 miles in 15:45. I ran four times that week. During my fourth week I ran my first 4 mile run in 35:00. I ran six days. Each day was 2-4 miles. I took one day off. My fingers are crossed. I’m pain free.
My sports medicine orthopedist says for some people it takes as much as a year for all swelling to go down in the injured area. I have found that the swelling has gone down faster in the past four weeks with activity than it did with four months of inactivity. So, I’ll always question, perhaps I should’ve started activity earlier? I’ll never know. For now, upward and onward, one step at a time. I’m happy I’m running.