Torn Achilles- looking for cardio exercises to do
May 29, 2007 5:50 AM   Subscribe

I'm an avid runner and tore my achilles. Looking for cardio exercises to do that don't involve ankle/legs much.

I'm an avid runner (approximately 30 miles a week), and in my 40's. I'm in good condition and weight well within the range of what I should- in large part because I love to run.

Unfortunately I just tore my Achilles tendon, and am looking at an extended rehab.

Since I won't be bending my ankle to a large extent anytime soon, I'm looking for cardio exercises that burn calories, but don't involve the ankle/legs much.

I've come up with possibly swimming as an alternative. I see a doctor tomorrow and would like to get some exercises OK'd if anyone else can come up with some other alternatives.
posted by rryan to Health & Fitness (13 answers total)
Swimming would be great for you. Especially if you get a leg buoy/pull buoy which is a float you keep between your legs to keep them from having to kick.
Also there are bicycles that are arm, rather than leg, powered. But I have not tried one and they are most likely expensive.
posted by iurodivii at 6:09 AM on May 29, 2007

Def. swimming, but def. use a buoy between your legs. I hairlined my tibia at the ankle in a four-wheeling accident years ago, and even the slightest kick, even in water and while wearing my brace), sent me screeching in pain.
posted by notsnot at 6:16 AM on May 29, 2007

You could try water running. I've not done it, but I know many avid runners who swear by it as a rehab exercise.
posted by OmieWise at 6:34 AM on May 29, 2007

Hold off until you start working with a physical therapist on a rehab program. My experience with knee and hip issues has been that orthopods focus on your problems, while PTs aim to return your whole body to its original (or better) condition. Swimming may fit into that, but you don't want to do something now that will make getting full use of your legs back more difficult in the future.

In a similar vein, make sure your PT knows you're athletic and looking to work hard -- they will appreciate that guidance.
posted by backupjesus at 6:42 AM on May 29, 2007

Response by poster: The swimming with a buoy between my legs sounds promising. I hadn't thought of that.

I"ll also ask about water running. Looks like I'm going to spend some time in the pool.

Thanks, all-
posted by rryan at 6:53 AM on May 29, 2007

water running is excellent when you have a stress fracture (something I am *VERY* familiar with, being a bigger runner who runs longer distances)

dunno if that's such a hot idea for a torn achilles though, so talk to your doctor first. you will be moving your feet and legs a lot as you do this, and I am not sure this is the best course of treatment for an Achilles injury.

When I have ligament issues, the kayak becomes my new best friend. Not sure if this is an option for you (I live on the west coast)
posted by seawallrunner at 6:56 AM on May 29, 2007

I don't think water running is a good idea. It's great for stress fractures because it means you're not putting (much) weight on the foot, so not affecting the fractured bone. But you're still going through the motions, and that includes bending your ankle, which you obviously don't want to do.
posted by jacalata at 7:44 AM on May 29, 2007

A vote for backupjesus. This is a question for a physical therapist, rather than a bunch of anonymous mefites, because you could really screw yourself up worse.
posted by commander_cool at 7:52 AM on May 29, 2007

Nthing the professional opinion - esp for a load bearing injury. One thought about the swimming though - it's amazing how much movement there can be in a joint you aren't actively working. Even with the pull buoy. Depending on the exact nature of the injury you may find that anything in the water may not be such a hot idea. Ex: I've broken toes that, after the swelling comes down, don't present a problem walking but get wiggled just so in the water...... Not pleasant.

Should this be of concern you may find that the local team (or maybe university/college gym) might have a swim bench. Think something like a rowing machine for swimming. You lie on it, often you can weight it or incline it as need me and nothing need ever touch your foot.
posted by mce at 8:48 AM on May 29, 2007

My gym has a arm-bike type machine - perhaps something like that?
posted by prentiz at 9:30 AM on May 29, 2007

Response by poster: I appreciate the concern regarding getting any exercise checked out by a pro before doing anything. I guess I'm just getting antsy not being able to run and wanted to be able to ask some questions generated by others who might have had a similar experience.

After having going through the pain, believe me, I'm not risking anything before getting a professional OK.

Thanks again!
posted by rryan at 9:51 AM on May 29, 2007

How about rowing?
posted by aeighty at 10:22 AM on May 29, 2007

Rowing definitely flexes the ankles big time. As does any kicking. A hand bike or racing wheelchair is probably the best at isolating just the upper body for cardio.
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:26 PM on May 29, 2007

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