By Sam Vargas PT, DPT
Do you know the feeling, that “pop” and thought that someone kicked the back of your leg? Achilles tendon rupture is unmistakable…I know. You know, several celebrities you may know have had it too: Kobe Bryant, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and Brad Pitt (it’s ironic he played Achilles in that movie Troy). These are just a few examples of people who have led VERY ACTIVE LIVES after their Achilles tendon repair surgery. I bet they too have asked, “can I run after Achilles tendon repair?” Running after Achilles tendon repair requires careful planning and rehabilitation to avoid reinjury. Now, you know I never prescribe over the internet, so instead let’s talk about some guidelines.
Firstly, follow your doctor’s and physical therapist’s recommendations.
Your healthcare team will provide specific guidance on when to start running and what exercises to perform during your recovery. It is important to follow their instructions. Please, please follow their guidance to ensure a safe and successful return to running.
As for “exercises,” start with low-impact exercise.
This means get your cardio going with swimming or biking. This will improve your fitness and strength without putting too much stress on your Achilles tendon. Then gradually increase intensity and duration. Once you are cleared to begin running, start with short intervals of slow jogging or brisk walking. Gradually increase the time and intensity of your runs over several weeks. Also, incorporate stretching and strength training. Regular exercises like these can help improve your flexibility and strengthen the muscles around your Achilles tendon. Consider working with a physical therapist to develop a tailored rehabilitation program. If you want a look at another general guideline opinion, check out this link to Runner’s World!
One of the big keys is to focus on proper form.
This can help reduce stress on your Achilles tendon and prevent reinjury. You may ask, “What form should I have?” and my answer is, “If you need to ask, then you may need to see a physical therapist to assist you with figuring that out.”
Most importantly, listen to your body.
If you experience pain or discomfort during or after a run, take a break and allow your body to rest. It is better to take a few days off than to risk further injury. Keep in mind, returning to running after Achilles tendon repair can take several months and it’s important to be patient and consistent with your rehabilitation program. Remember to always consult with your healthcare team before starting any new exercise program.
By Sam Vargas PT, DPT