The Achilles tendon is the biggest and strongest tendon in the human body and is formed by the tendons of the soleus and gastrocnemius muscles which both insert at the calcaneus. We mostly see ruptures of the Achilles tendon in high-impact sports predominantly in the male athlete.
While a scientific review from the year 2017 showed no significant differences in the outcomes of surgical and conservative management the re-rupture rate of conservatively managed tendons was higher and conservative management might not be suitable for every injury depending on its severity. However, there is a clear benefit of an accelerated rehab program including early mobilization versus immobilization as has been researched by Brumann et al. (2014).
In the 1st phase post-surgery, usually lasting about two weeks, the goal should be to properly educate the patient on the expected course. Make sure that the wound heals properly and swelling is under control The patient will likely wear a walker boot with 30° of plantar flexion, but should be able to walk with full weight-bearing. Your aim is going to be to strengthen the surrounding muscles.
So let’s look at what this could look like.
Toe flexion & extension
Straight Leg Raise
Clam Shells with and without resistance bands
Side-lying abductions with or without resistance bands or ankle weights
WHAT TO LOOK FOR TO PREVENT HAMSTRING, CALF & QUADRICEPS INJURIES
If you are interested in early and mid-phase rehab exercises for Achilles tendon rupture repair, check out the posts below:
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This course was excellent at breaking down the rehabilitation process of the big 3 (Quadriceps, Hamstrings and lower leg injuries). The content is very practical and applicable to advance your methods of rehabilitation and also to to develop robust methods for injury prevention and building resilience with your athletes. I particularly liked the progression of rehab shown from the acute stage right through to the return to training and performance phase. The exercises and rehab techniques highlight the importance of building structural strength and their progression and integration into more dynamic exercises as they relate to the phases of gait, running cycle and specific movement patterns in multiple planes . All material is supported with evidence based research, a list of further references and practical video demonstrations for you to practice.
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