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Achilles Tendon Rupture


Scott Gregor · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2017 · Points: 0

Thanks for this thread. I ruptured mine about 5 weeks ago and I’m about 3 weeks post surgery. Looking forward to getting into a boot soon and being able to get my foot wet.

I’ve been lifting weights for upper body, hangboarding, doing core work outs and some easy exercises for my glute on the bad side. My bad leg has atrophied a lot.

Looking forward to swimming to get some cardio fitness back too.

Ero Sennin · · San Diego, CA · Joined Jul 2018 · Points: 155

The gains will come quickly once you’re out of the cast Scott.  Being able to shower without dealing with the plastic bag and scrubbing the junk off the leg was like winning the lottery.  I used a stationary bike, and if your doctor allows it, one legged squats.

The atrophy on my bad leg was, and still is, pretty damn terrible. It still looks like a toothpick.  I’m able to do long hikes for cardio again, but I lack power and speed. Weighted backpacks kills me, but I take solace in the fact that I can move again.

I still remember the day I got the cast off, then the boot, it was like heaven. I’m enjoying the little stuff, and being able to climb and going up and down the stairs without crutches is awesome. Makes me really happy to know the thread has some use.  Best on your recovery. 

Wesley Neill · · Sequoia National Park, CA · Joined Nov 2016 · Points: 578

Ero, THANKS for this thread. You are right, this thread has a ton of use. Namely keeping us gimps sane and giving us hope!

Scott, keep us updated! I'm curious to hear about your PT routine when it begins! I go into surgery on Friday. I started hitting the weights seriously last week. Before climbing I fancied myself a "body builder", and it's nice to have an old hobby that not only keep my strength up, but keep me sane until I can hike and climb again.

I also never hang boarded religiously because I climbed so much, but I've looked up some programs and it's kinda fun. I'm already setting goals! I want to send 5.12 within a year, and maybe break into single pitch 5.11 on gear. Those were my goals for this year, but I figure they will make good post injury goals for the winter time.

"Rejoice in your hope [that you will climb again, among other larger blessings], be patient in tribulation [post surgery recovery], be constant in prayer [for others who have it much worse than you]. 

Thanks to limpingcrab (who broke both of his heels in a big fall on a big first ascent here in Kings Canyon for sharing that verse with me). He also reminded me that climbing isn't life, as much as I like to think it is.

Scott Gregor · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2017 · Points: 0

I'm in a boot now and allow to put some weight on my bad foot, and I still use my crutches to walk. Man this tendon is STIFF! I'm supposed to take my boot off every now and then and move my foot. I can hardly move it, kind of funny. I lose the crutches in a week and go full weight bearing while booted. Surgeon says I start PT in a month after I get my foot to 90 degrees.

Ero Sennin · · San Diego, CA · Joined Jul 2018 · Points: 155

Scott, while I was extremely happy after the cast was off, between that time and when I went back to two shoes was when I had the greatest difficulties.  Like you're experiencing, the tendon was extremely stiff.  Up until a little over a month ago, I was concerned I had some nerve damage as well.  I would look at my leg and tell it to do a heel/calf raise and nothing would happen, not a fraction of a centimeter.  The only way I was able to move it was to brace myself on something then the muscles would fire.  I also experienced cramping off the slightest movement and the calf would seize up from time to time.  Also be prepared for your heel to hurt once you're out of the boot.  I initially thought my pain was from a fracture I had sustained a few months before, but the doctor and therapist assured me it was simply because I've been off that foot for so long, the padding under the heel had dissipated and would need time to build back up.

Everything has been going pretty slowly.  My biggest gain started about a month ago.  Movement on rock started feeling more natural.  I started to put more weight on my feet instead of hanging off the arms all the time, mileage increased, etc.  PT was a tremendous help to me.  I also bought a "scraper" at the suggestion of my therapists and scrape the shit out of the tendon every night to break up the scar tissue.  Both said they've never seen anyone develop so much scar tissue in their entire careers.  They were initially afraid I was being too aggressive with my training regimen and concerned about tendinosis.  I dialed things back, and they both reviewed it, and cleared me to continue on my merry way.  They chalked it up to my body simply liking to throw a shit ton of collagen/tissue on the damaged site but had no further concerns.  My biggest issue right now is finding the right climbing shoes.  The only one I had that would fit me was a 7-year old pair that had a complete rand separation and torn upper two weeks ago.  The bad Achilles is still about 3-4 times larger than the good side.

I hope you and Wesley continue to provide updates.  It's been interesting for me these past few months reading about others' recoveries.  There's been lots of stories from other sports but very few climbing stories.  I'm interested in comparing notes and our recovery times, and what's working for you guys.  I got the idea for the detailed timeline and "journal" from dmr.  He sent me a very detailed timeline and when he hit all his milestones, etc.  His injury was a few years ago, and he sent me a picture last month, and his tendon almost looks normal.  And Wesley, the same week I first got back on real rock, dmr climbed an 11b at Tahquitz and I think he's got a few decades on you.  There is still a bright climbing future.  ;-)

Please keep us updated on the progress.  Thanks guys.

EDIT: Scott, this is what it looks like today. A comparison between the good and bad. No pain, but still very tight.


Scott Gregor · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2017 · Points: 0

Glad to year that you're making progress and back climbing Ero! Your scar is nicely healed. Funny you mention tendonosis, as I had been struggling with insertional achilles tendinopathy for ~1.5 years since I am also into long distance trail running. The surgeon said that my tendon was degenerated and was a contributor to my rupture. Here's my timeline so far:

6/1 rupture
6/14 surgery
6/20 post surgery splint replaced with fiberglass cast
6/26 staples removed, new fiberglass cast
7/10 walking boot with wedges has replaced fiberglass cast. still use crutches but can bear some weight on bad foot
speculative 7/17: full weight bearing in walking boot with wedges. no more crutches.

Josh Glantz · · Seattle · Joined Jun 2019 · Points: 0

Ero- good to hear you're back on rock. I've luckily never had more than tendonitis in my Achilles, but nonetheless, I'm glad you've been able to provide so much helpful perspective on the injury for so many others in the climbing community. Your honesty re: your experience and your dedication to the sport of climbing are both admirable. Wishing you a complete recovery- climb on!

Ero Sennin · · San Diego, CA · Joined Jul 2018 · Points: 155
Scott Gregor wrote: Glad to year that you're making progress and back climbing Ero! Your scar is nicely healed. Funny you mention tendonosis, as I had been struggling with insertional achilles tendinopathy for ~1.5 years since I am also into long distance trail running. The surgeon said that my tendon was degenerated and was a contributor to my rupture. Here's my timeline so far:

6/1 rupture
6/14 surgery
6/20 post surgery splint replaced with fiberglass cast
6/26 staples removed, new fiberglass cast
7/10 walking boot with wedges has replaced fiberglass cast. still use crutches but can bear some weight on bad foot
speculative 7/17: full weight bearing in walking boot with wedges. no more crutches.

I enjoy the long miles even more than climbing Scott so I feel you on the trail running.  I'm giving the tendon more time to heal before I start adding more intensive workouts.  I can do the shuffle/jog on flat ground right now, but don't have the power to push off and run up trails yet.


Josh Glantz wrote:
Ero- good to hear you're back on rock. I've luckily never had more than tendonitis in my Achilles, but nonetheless, I'm glad you've been able to provide so much helpful perspective on the injury for so many others in the climbing community. Your honesty re: your experience and your dedication to the sport of climbing are both admirable. Wishing you a complete recovery- climb on!

I appreciate it Josh!  I'm an over-the-hill gimp, but I do plan to climb until my final days.  Being out there has never been a chore, and always has been therapeutic for me.  
MIchael Plapp · · Truckee · Joined Apr 2011 · Points: 0

Good luck with the surgery and recovery.
Be dilligent with your PT post surgery.
I had a complete rupture in 2009 from a lead fall.
As others said, it was 6mo to be climbing again and longer to be back 100%.
I had residual pain in the achilles when sport climbing multi-pitch. I changed to less aggressive shoes, the La Sportiva Katana Laces work well.
Still get soreness probably due to scar tissue but range of motion and strength are fine.Michael

Wesley Neill · · Sequoia National Park, CA · Joined Nov 2016 · Points: 578

Ero, thanks for the idea of journaling my injury and recovery. I'm a rather verbose person by nature and don't want to spam the thread too much, so I will post in parts. Here is through today, the date of surgery. I hope it helps someone like yours did for me:

6.24.19 fell roughly 20 feet. Airlifted off of Moro and taken to ER by family. Not sure how I landed, but I ended up with a torn achilles and a bruised heel bone.

7.2.19 MRI and given aircast boot to use until consult with orthopedic. Can awkwardly walk but am using crutches for 99 percent of the time. Began weight training and hangboarding routine in earnest.

7.9.19 consult with orthopedic surgeon. Confirmation that achilles is more than 75% torn. Given option of non operative treatment with warning that re rupture rate is lower with surgery. Opted to set surgery date for 7.12.19

7.11.19 last workout before surgery. 10 minutes of hang boarding plus one hour of chest, core and calf raises with good leg. 

7.12.19 surgery postponed to 15th due to OR equipment failure. 

7.14.19 one leg squats, straight leg deadlifts (not full ROM), bent over rows, bicep curls, short hangboard session. 

7.15.19 Surgery cancelled again. Waiting on new date. Very sore today from the leg workout yesterday. 10 sets of 5-7 pullups. Lat pull downs. 6 sets bench 135 s.s. with curls. Flys, rows, more pulldown. Bench dropsets. 

7.16.19 legs. One leg squats, extensions and curls. Single leg jump rope, calf raises and bad leg toe/calf flexes.

7.17.19 Surgery! Apparently it went well. 2 weeks in a splint, possibly followed by another cast or splint or maybe straight to a boot. 
***The nurses and doctors at the VA hospital in Fresno are the friendliest medical professionals I've ever encountered. Thank you Lord for their help and kind words. 

Ero Sennin · · San Diego, CA · Joined Jul 2018 · Points: 155
Wesley Neill wrote: Ero, thanks for the idea of journaling my injury and recovery. I'm a rather verbose person by nature and don't want to spam the thread too much, so I will post in parts. Here is through today, the date of surgery. I hope it helps someone like yours did for me:


Hi Wesley,
I just edit the original post so that the information is consolidated in one place, and it doesn't constantly bump the thread with every update.  It ooks like you had a little snafu with the scheduling of the surgery.  We're almost in the same boat in that regard.  It appears that a lot of folks get it within days.  I hit my six month post op date this past Tuesday.  I'll provide a brief update but that will probably be my last post on the matter unless anyone has questions.

The good news is that I was able to spend five days out in Tuolumne and Yosemite Valley.  I was secretly hoping to get back to 100% normal and beat the "statistics", and cap the six month goal post with a (few) long Sierra route(s).  Some test-runs around Tahquitz and San Jacinto the previous week, and my first day at North Peak showed that I wasn't anywhere close to my former shape, and I wasn't ready.  I was completely gassed on my first day, and my last day.  Definitely not close to normal yet, but the good news is that I've recovered enough to be out there and enjoy some easy and moderate routes.  A little disappointed with myself, but I'll also take whatever incremental gain I can get.

Hope your recovery goes smoothly, and you're able to get back on the saddle quicker than I did.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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