Author Topic: Cycling after achilles tendon rupture  (Read 992 times)

Cycling after achilles tendon rupture
« on: 20 May, 2024, 05:29:32 pm »
Does anyone have any advice or experience to share of returning to cycling after an achilles tendon rupture? Previously a fit, healthy and active 63 year old cyclist, I suffered an achilles tendon rupture in February of this year. I spent 8 weeks in a plastic cast which came off 4 weeks ago. 2 weeks ago I had my first cycle ride. First impressions was that I could do it without falling over. But I have three limitations:
One is general loss of fitness after 8 weeks of limited mobility.
Two is muscle wasting of the calf which makes the cycling action feel awkward and lop sided. It feels like one leg is shorter than the other  (although it isn't)
Three is stiffness of the ankle joint makes clipping in and out of pedals difficult and painful.
So far, I've managed short town rides and a couple of 30km rides. After these two rides I was exhausted for the rest of the day.
I realise it is early days but I would interested if anyone has any experience of how long it ls likely to take to get back to 'normal'?
Thanks
I am often asked, what does YOAV stand for? It stands for Yoav On A Velo

hellymedic

  • Just do it!
Re: Cycling after achilles tendon rupture
« Reply #1 on: 20 May, 2024, 07:51:02 pm »
I have no PERSONAL experience of this but feel you need input from a sports physio and whoever treated your injury.

You really don’t want to risk repeat rupture!

I would suggest cross-training with non weight-bearing exercise like swimming, to regain baseline aerobic fitness and fairly gentle stretches to regain mobility.

I’ve never ridden clipless but it might be an idea to return to ordinary pedals and clips till you’re fully mobile.

I managed to tackle my first 400km Audax successfully, with Achilles tendinitis,by hardly moving my ankle, on platform pedals with toe clips so it IS possible to use other muscles and still progress.

Hoping you recover well!

FifeingEejit

  • Not Small
Re: Cycling after achilles tendon rupture
« Reply #2 on: 20 May, 2024, 10:40:54 pm »
Does anyone have any advice or experience to share of returning to cycling after an achilles tendon rupture? Previously a fit, healthy and active 63 year old cyclist, I suffered an achilles tendon rupture in February of this year. I spent 8 weeks in a plastic cast which came off 4 weeks ago. 2 weeks ago I had my first cycle ride. First impressions was that I could do it without falling over. But I have three limitations:
One is general loss of fitness after 8 weeks of limited mobility.
Two is muscle wasting of the calf which makes the cycling action feel awkward and lop sided. It feels like one leg is shorter than the other  (although it isn't)
Three is stiffness of the ankle joint makes clipping in and out of pedals difficult and painful.
So far, I've managed short town rides and a couple of 30km rides. After these two rides I was exhausted for the rest of the day.
I realise it is early days but I would interested if anyone has any experience of how long it ls likely to take to get back to 'normal'?
Thanks

The first thing you've got to recognise is all that fitness you had before the injury, it's Gone.
The second thing is all those restrictions you've identified, they're either train out able or "life altering" (a term I use loosely here)
Presumably you've been referred to physio to get thing moving as much as you can yeah?

I've now got restricted range in both ankles, so I can't step down as well as I used to, the physio was happy with what I'd recovered range wise.
It's a problem hiking but not when cycling.

Focus on the recovery exercises first, there's no point rushing back on the bike and causing more damage with movements like unclipping or over-extending on the downstroke.

You lose different bits of fitness at different speeds, the endurance is usually still there after a reasonable period off the bike but the speed, you need to rebuild that, and if you've gained weight off the bike that's another thing to deal with.

One of the things my latest physio noticed was that might right calf was considerably smaller than my left, all those years compensating for the weaknesses..., it's getting there with weighted calf raises once a week (originally every day unweighted)

Wowbagger

  • Stout dipper
    • Stuff mostly about weather
Re: Cycling after achilles tendon rupture
« Reply #3 on: 20 May, 2024, 11:17:34 pm »
In 2014 I suffered a ruptured gastrocnemius which was initially misdiagnosed as a ruptured achilles tendon. The difference was that mine was about 6 inches too high. I suspect that the symptoms and treatment were similar.

https://yacf.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=83717.msg1727153#msg1727153 refers.

I recall being off the bike for 3 months whilst it repaired itself. Up to that point I had been an all-year cyclist but from August to November was a pretty dire time to be off the bike because you simply cannot acclimatise yourself to the colder weather. I think it's fair to say that my cycling has never really recovered from that incident.

You have my sympathy, and I hope you gws.

Edit: apparently this injury is known in the USA as "tennis leg". It's pretty common in older buggers who are Doing Silly Things involving putting undue stress on calf muscles.
Quote from: Dez
It doesn’t matter where you start. Just start.

Re: Cycling after achilles tendon rupture
« Reply #4 on: 21 May, 2024, 07:01:32 am »
I suffered a torn achillies tendon in 2016. By the time I started cycling again my fitness had
decreased substantially. I knew it would take time to get back into shape, so I did short rides
(10 - 15 flat miles or so) and took it easy. There was no need for me to accelerate the need
to regain fitness, as I knew it would eventually come back, (which it did).

Re: Cycling after achilles tendon rupture
« Reply #5 on: 21 May, 2024, 10:39:18 am »
I would suggest ditching the clips for a while so that you can move your ankle more easily.  Would shorter art longer cranks give less need for ankle movement?

I would look for a good sports massage therapist as the muscle is likely to have shortened and stiffened from the immobilisation .
Good luck

Re: Cycling after achilles tendon rupture
« Reply #6 on: 21 May, 2024, 12:22:48 pm »
.......as the muscle is likely to have shortened and stiffened from the immobilisation .
Good luck
Yes indeed! I did notice my achilles stretch; it felt like the 'ripping of paper' sound on one particular ride (no other way to describe it).

Re: Cycling after achilles tendon rupture
« Reply #7 on: 21 May, 2024, 12:58:00 pm »
our 17yr old ripped hers in January, she had a similar 8 weeks in a cast and started very gently using the exercise bike and doing limited weight training after another 4 weeks of gentle stretching and increased walking. She didnt ride outside for 8 weeks after getting the cast off, not because it hurt when she was riding but because the risk of having to do something suddenly to cope with traffic might have risked pulling it again. She's been back on the bike outside since the start of this term (thank goodness) and is now walking limp-free.

No running for at least another 3 months, I'd have thought. Poor kid.

Re: Cycling after achilles tendon rupture
« Reply #8 on: 21 May, 2024, 01:12:32 pm »
My only advice is to have patience and play the long game.  I’ve seen too much too soon often lead to permanent disablement amongst a few friends over the years.  Take your time and make as full a recovery as you can. 

hellymedic

  • Just do it!
Re: Cycling after achilles tendon rupture
« Reply #9 on: 21 May, 2024, 01:43:10 pm »
The Achilles tendon gets rather thin & ropy with time.
Older tendons are frazzled & frayed.

Don’t expect too much from your healing heel!

Re: Cycling after achilles tendon rupture
« Reply #10 on: 21 May, 2024, 05:58:21 pm »
Thanks for all the suggestions. I'm feeling fairly optimistic.
Physio - tick
Exercising at home - tick
Stiffness and muscle weakness improving - tick
Stick with flat pedals - tick (my one ride with clipless pedals was a by way of a trial to see what would happen)
Massage - good idea, will look into this
Hopefully summer weather will help.
I am often asked, what does YOAV stand for? It stands for Yoav On A Velo