Breaking Down Aaron Rodgers' Miraculous Recovery from Achilles Tendon Surgery

Dive into the innovative techniques that helped Aaron Rodgers recover from his Achilles tendon rupture. We explore the surgery and the weeks beyond.
Achilles Tendon Surgery

What are the three words no quarterback wants to hear following an in-play injury? You guessed it: Achilles tendon rupture. 

Unfortunately for Aaron Rodgers, a ruptured tendon put a grinding halt to his NFL 2023 season.

While most people take four to six months to resume their usual activities, Rodgers bounced back 77 days later. 

We're here to explore how Aaron Rodgers recovered his Achilles tendon at superhuman speed and what his surgery involved.

Understanding Achilles Tendon Ruptures

The Achilles tendon is a small tissue band connecting the calf muscles to the heel bone. Each day, we rely on it to run, walk, stand on tiptoe, and maintain balance and stability. 

An Achilles tendon rupture can arise for several reasons, like overuse and trauma. Athletes have an especially high incidence of Achilles tendon tears, as around 75% of these injuries happen when people are playing sports.

There are different grades of Achilles tendon tear, ranging from one to three. At the lower end of the scale, a partial rupture may result in a sharp pain and some swelling. Grade 3 may severely impact a person's ability to move and engage in everyday activities.

News reports suggest that Rodgers suffered a completely ruptured Achilles tendon, which makes his rapid recovery even more impressive. 

Aaron Rodgers' Achilles Tendon Timeline

Aaron Rodgers' ACL tear took place at an inconvenient point for the New York Jets: four plays into the 2023 NFL season on September 11th. 

Later speaking on the Pat McAfee show, he said, "I knew I tore my Achilles. I popped my calf a few times...and it was not that sensation."

Rodgers underwent an Achilles tendon repair on September 14th. For most people, this would present a brutal and long recovery where a return to normal activities looks uncertain. Despite this, the Hall of Fame player made headlines when he attended a Jets practice on November 29th, less than three months after the original injury.

Whether Rodgers returns before the end of 2023 is open to debate. The player believes it could take four to six months to return to his previous state and claims that reinjury isn't a bad thing

How Aaron Rodgers Recovered from ACL Surgery

Aaron Rodgers' recovery began with choosing the best orthopedic surgeon at hand. Dr. Neal ElAttrache has a longstanding history of repairing athletes' Achilles tendon injuries. Among his more famous clients are Koby Bryant and Tom Brady. 

From the outset, Rodgers said he would embark on a rigorous physical therapy journey. This determined attitude could have helped strengthen him mentally for the weeks ahead.

Unlike when many people recover from a tendon rupture, Rodgers had a wealth of advanced tools at his disposal. One popular approach among athletes is to use platelet-rich plasma injections, which enhance the blood supply to the recovering area, encouraging faster healing.

According to the New York Jets, Rodgers used the Alter G AntiGravity Treadmill, a piece of equipment that uses a lifting effect that limits the amount of weight placed on the lower extremities. Over time, Rodgers increased the body weight he placed on his legs until he reached full capacity.

Another nonsurgical treatment used by Rodgers was blood flow restriction therapy. This approach involves limiting blood flow to a target area during exercise to build muscle and promote healing.

Rodgers' surgeon also used the speedbridge procedure, a surgical intervention that encourages faster Achilles rupture healing. This approach guards against stretching, which may reduce his chances of another torn tendon.

The Risks of Aaron Rodgers' Achilles Tendon Rupture Going Forward

While Aaron Rodgers' progress has been inspiring, he isn't in the clear yet.

Returning from an injury too quickly risks further incidents both at the original site and elsewhere. As the Achilles tendon connects with the lower leg, it supports various joints further up, and an increase in activity level before adequate healing could make any future treatment challenging.

However, it's likely that Rodgers' return to practice is well-informed on a personal and expert level. The athlete is probably acting on input from a team of professionals, as well as a strong sense of self-awareness that drives his decisions.

With Rodgers previously bouncing back from a knee injury at speed, it's clear he's resilient. For now, NFL fans worldwide will watch keenly to see how the quarterback progresses.

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