Hunting after Achilles’ tendon tear

donbearpig

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Hey folks out there! I want to get some advice if anyone has gone threw an Achilles tear before, I am one week post op and have an antelope hunt in Wyoming in seven weeks that I will likely just drop off my partners at the hunting spots and do a little bit of walking around with my rifle.
my question is what type of boots and drops have the Achilles heel folks like me switched too post op? I am thinking of the drop ratings and such.
 

robtattoo

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To be honest, I can't comment on the actual, physical injury, but as a fatter, middle aged dude suffering from osteoarthritis in his ankles, knees & neck I feel like I'm qualified to offer some mediocre advice.

Don't stress it.

Drop your buddies off to go hikey-looper hunting. You should just drive around & glass. When you see an interloper within range, slip out of the truck, walk those 30 feet & shoot it. Wear whatever is comfortable for you. You shouldn't have to walk more than 400 or so yards.
 
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donbearpig

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That’s our plan. We did an out of state Idaho elk hunt a few years ago and the guys I am going with are mountain goats! I was looking forward to really getting some miles in but as you laid out, that is probably going to be my hunt!!!

with your arthritis problems, what type of boot have you migrated to? I have some lowa Tibet’s right now that are really stiff, no ankle rolling for me in those.
 

Ryan R

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A 1/4" heel lift will take some off the stress off your tendon.

I injured my achilles (not a tear) a few weeks before a 12 day backpack trip. With a 1/4", deck of cards sized piece of dense rubber (homemade) that I put under my superfeet orange insole, I was able to do the whole trip pain free. My case was not as serious as yours though.

A physiotherapist would have some good ideas.
 

Whaledriver

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I ruptured mine in late February 2018, surgery first week of March. I went with an aggressive doctor and PT regimen. Was turkey hunting in April and killed my first bull that November with a 4+ mile packout. Strengthen, strengthen and strengthen. Your calf muscle is the only shock absorber for the tendon. Be very careful with the Tibets. They are very stiff and that will increase the amount of stress on the tendon. I would lean towards a Saloman type boot that has a softer sole but good ankle support. I personally run Lowa Caminos and they are a nice balance. Use the heel riser until you are healed up more. Lastly keep track of your mileage per day and be aware of the terrain. I walked a ways on plowed fields and it was no bueno. Do not overdue it. I did turkey hunting and it set me back a week or so. Check the area each evening. If it feels warm or sore, take a few days off. Good luck out there!!
 

Mrwigelow

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I had a Achilles’ tendon rupture May 2008 and was back in action in October 2008. I had a good surgeon and a fantastic Physical Therapist. I would follow all recommendations of the professionals you paid to get you back in the game! I am a big fan of the Kennetrek Mountain Guides as they provide a great deal of ankle/calf support. Good luck and don’t rush it!
 
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donbearpig

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I ruptured mine in late February 2018, surgery first week of March. I went with an aggressive doctor and PT regimen. Was turkey hunting in April and killed my first bull that November with a 4+ mile packout. Strengthen, strengthen and strengthen. Your calf muscle is the only shock absorber for the tendon. Be very careful with the Tibets. They are very stiff and that will increase the amount of stress on the tendon. I would lean towards a Saloman type boot that has a softer sole but good ankle support. I personally run Lowa Caminos and they are a nice balance. Use the heel riser until you are healed up more. Lastly keep track of your mileage per day and be aware of the terrain. I walked a ways on plowed fields and it was no bueno. Do not overdue it. I did turkey hunting and it set me back a week or so. Check the area each evening. If it feels warm or sore, take a few days off. Good luck out there!!
Thanks for the advice. A comment below said to chat with my physio, I going to take your boot recs to him and show him the boots. I’m a bit over the Lowas, my feet are getting in better shape and want to move. I actually tore it wearing some sportiva trail runners, up until that point there were zero foot problems with some good hiking around northwest washington and rough Arizona rocks in my backyard frequently. I’m gonna definately look I to your boot recs.
 

4dcfries

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I tore mine in may of 2019. I am now fully ready for elk at the age of 65. What I found was I fatigued quickly in the early months. Felt good for the first part of long walk and soon discovered I was limping hard. This is with good shoes and boots. What always scared the crap out of me was a re-tear. At my age I couldn't afford another lapse of time away from bow hunting and turkey hunting. FYI, I had just gone in for the first day of turkey. Found my bird and was due to go back in the next day for the kill....such is life. Good luck,
 

robtattoo

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with your arthritis problems, what type of boot have you migrated to? I have some lowa Tibet’s right now that are really stiff, no ankle rolling for me in those.

Same as you. I'm in Lowa Tibet Gtx. They're the only boots I've found that have the width & more importantly, height from sole to upper I need for my ridiculous hooves. You're right admitt the support though, zero chance of a rollover.
 

Whaledriver

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Also forgot to mention good inserts. I have a super high arch and my doc said it can be a factor with Achilles issues. Good inserts can help prevent foot and lower leg injuries. I personally use the Soles. Cooked them in the oven and they help support the arch well.
 

Beendare

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Getting Cancelled, Im out
IMO,
You just have to think differently....find a good spot and be patient. Covering a lot of ground is not an option.
_

I hunted one year in the high country of NV on a pack in bowhunt ...and another CO OTC elk hunt with a severely broken ankle still in a cast.

I had opportunities on both hunts.

My buddy was shocked when he got back from a 10 miler and I had shot an elk 300 yds from our camp.

______
 

el_jefe_pescado

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I hear you dude. I’ve got a severely aggravated Achilles insertion right now (nothing torn or ruptured thankfully). Doc stuck me in a walking boot for the next couple weeks. Father-in-law is a podiatrist and is recommending a heel lift once I get out of the boot. Perfect timing as we bear down on archery season here in CO. Hopefully, I will be able to salvage some of the season but needless to say I’ve been thrown a curve ball. It sounds weird but I feel like I’m being put in a position to help my buddies find success this year...even if that’s just glassing from the truck or dropping them off at a trailhead.

Some encouraging stories in this thread. Good luck with your goat buddy!


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stvnshnn

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Mar 6, 2014
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Some good advice here. Don't force it. Did some studying as a S&C coach and after the first tear, you can be more prone to a second one. Avoid that straight-up-the-hill angle and stretching your AT so close to your surgery.
As other have said, take your time, enjoy being out, and allow recovery to make you be extra slow and extra quiet. You won't miss anything close by that way ;)
 

grossklw

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A lot depends on surgeon and protocol. I’m a sports Med PT and a lot of how you’ll do is based on what the surgeon allows. An aggressive surgeon will allow you to give it a go with an aggressive heel lift and stiff boot that almost mimicks a walking boot. I’ve seen others that make it non weight bearing for 6-8 weeks which makes rehab a pain in the ass.

You won’t be anywhere near full strength but hopefully you’ll be able to hobble around and find a dumby.

Achilles’ tendon rehab isn’t necessarily hard or painful like a rotator cuff. It’s just ungodly slow and boring. I’m sure you’re working with a physio currently but if you’re not don’t crazy stretching early. You can get back too much range of motion if you’re too aggressive early. The range of motion will come, I rarely have to spend any time on actually stressing Achilles after that surgery as walking is usually enough to get back to where you should be.
 

Ctpa61

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I blew my right achilleas out July 2nd of 2012. 6 weeks no weight bearing in a cast then another 6 weeks in a walking boot. Hunted Idaho that October for elk but was not able to really run the mountains. Really not fully recovered until Feb/March of 2013 and at times may still limp when really tired out. Been running Crispy boots and Danner and Rocky athletic style boots since the injury.
 
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donbearpig

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A lot depends on surgeon and protocol. I’m a sports Med PT and a lot of how you’ll do is based on what the surgeon allows. An aggressive surgeon will allow you to give it a go with an aggressive heel lift and stiff boot that almost mimicks a walking boot. I’ve seen others that make it non weight bearing for 6-8 weeks which makes rehab a pain in the ass.

You won’t be anywhere near full strength but hopefully you’ll be able to hobble around and find a dumby.

Achilles’ tendon rehab isn’t necessarily hard or painful like a rotator cuff. It’s just ungodly slow and boring. I’m sure you’re working with a physio currently but if you’re not don’t crazy stretching early. You can get back too much range of motion if you’re too aggressive early. The range of motion will come, I rarely have to spend any time on actually stressing Achilles after that surgery as walking is usually enough to get back to where you should be.
Thanks for the comment I am hunting right now, killed a fawn this morning and missed a buck yesterday. I am week two of 6 for the cast off recovery with the boot. Great advice for me also on the stretching, I have reached a neutral dorsaflexion and my physio is pretty cautious and sticking to my surgeons protocol. I have maybe a 500 yards range moving slow with treck poles and there are so many opportunities here it’s not that bad! I I didn’t miss I would be done with the hunt already!
Since you mentioned this is your profession I have a question. I powerlifted for many years, done with that chapter of my life now and getting down to a healthy BMI. I read mark rippetoes starting strength and that allowed me to get strong. Is there a good book like his for reducing these type of tendon injuries, or should I work on general flexibility like yoga and Jiu Jitsu?
 

robby denning

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I don’t have a boot recommendation, but working as a trainer and with many trainers for 30 years, I’ve seen that injury a fair amount of times. It sure seems like a lot of guys come back nearly 100%. I hope you do too.


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grossklw

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Thanks for the comment I am hunting right now, killed a fawn this morning and missed a buck yesterday. I am week two of 6 for the cast off recovery with the boot. Great advice for me also on the stretching, I have reached a neutral dorsaflexion and my physio is pretty cautious and sticking to my surgeons protocol. I have maybe a 500 yards range moving slow with treck poles and there are so many opportunities here it’s not that bad! I I didn’t miss I would be done with the hunt already!
Since you mentioned this is your profession I have a question. I powerlifted for many years, done with that chapter of my life now and getting down to a healthy BMI. I read mark rippetoes starting strength and that allowed me to get strong. Is there a good book like his for reducing these type of tendon injuries, or should I work on general flexibility like yoga and Jiu Jitsu?


Not necessarily a book but Jill Cook is the god mother if you will of tendinopathy injuries which is essentially long term inflammation of a tendon. She has hundreds of studies published and has spent an entire academic career on the subject matter, but I’ll dumby it down. Most tears went from a progression of tendinitis to tendinopathy to tear (rotator cuff, hamstrings, and Achilles’ tendons are the most notorious). Eccentrics and loading the tissues are the key in keeping tendons strong and healthy, especially damaged ones. Eccentrics should be a part of at least some of your workouts (some meat heads call them negatives which works; but basically muscle activating but lengthening at the same time). Analogy I always use with patients is a healthy tendon is uncooked pasta, fibers orientating from point a to point b, it’s strong. Tendinopathy is cooked pasta, best way to get back to uncooked is loading that tissue, which is best achieved by eccentrics. It’s a slow laborious, boring process, but. It works.

Even gymnasts tear tendons, it’s rarely a flexibility issue, but Jui Jitsu and yoga are great for just generalized physical fitness. With all this being said, sometimes when it’s your time. It’s your time. No amount of strength and flexibility can overcome bad luck on occasion. Just look how many NFL players tear major tendons doing something they’ve done 1000s of times in their career, sometimes it’s just time and the tissue fails.
 

bigdesert10

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I detached my achilles playing football in high school. I would say it healed better than 90%, aside from a slight loss in range of motion long term. I made the mistake of being too ambitious too early, however, and found myself favoring that ankle during practice/games. That led to a series of muscle injuries in my opposite leg that would flare up for years to come if I didn't warm them up right.

I think you're right on track with the Lowa Tibets. I run the same boots and they're the best I've tried in terms of ankle support and comfort on long hikes and sidehill situations.

Long story short - good boot choice, and take 'er easy this year. Best of luck!
 
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donbearpig

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Not necessarily a book but Jill Cook is the god mother if you will of tendinopathy injuries which is essentially long term inflammation of a tendon. She has hundreds of studies published and has spent an entire academic career on the subject matter, but I’ll dumby it down. Most tears went from a progression of tendinitis to tendinopathy to tear (rotator cuff, hamstrings, and Achilles’ tendons are the most notorious). Eccentrics and loading the tissues are the key in keeping tendons strong and healthy, especially damaged ones. Eccentrics should be a part of at least some of your workouts (some meat heads call them negatives which works; but basically muscle activating but lengthening at the same time). Analogy I always use with patients is a healthy tendon is uncooked pasta, fibers orientating from point a to point b, it’s strong. Tendinopathy is cooked pasta, best way to get back to uncooked is loading that tissue, which is best achieved by eccentrics. It’s a slow laborious, boring process, but. It works.

Even gymnasts tear tendons, it’s rarely a flexibility issue, but Jui Jitsu and yoga are great for just generalized physical fitness. With all this being said, sometimes when it’s your time. It’s your time. No amount of strength and flexibility can overcome bad luck on occasion. Just look how many NFL players tear major tendons doing something they’ve done 1000s of times in their career, sometimes it’s just time and the tissue fails.
Thanks for the advice. I met with my surgeon this week actually and he used the word “creep” describing what you did. I’m a metallurgical engineer so matrix, deformation, phase transitions etc make good sense to me. If you want to get more scientific go for it!
Update on the hunt, I stayed near the truck the whole time and did end up shooting a doe. I missed two different bucks so the leg didn’t necessarily hold me back at all. Get my boot off next week and PT is ramping up a little faster now so I’m stoked! A year from now I can’t wait to hit hunting season again like a normal person!
 
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