Fitness experts have called Aaron Rodgers’ recovery from a torn Achilles tendon “much quicker than expected” and said it is “possible” he will return to football before the end of the season.
The New York Jets quarterback suffered a torn Achilles tendon on September 11 during his debut, an injury that typically takes up to a year to heal.
The setback jeopardized his NFL career and it seemed almost certain that he would have to wait until the rest of the year to set foot on the field again.
However, the 39-year-old Packers star is recovering quickly, given his age and the extent of his injury, and has already been seen walking unassisted and throwing the ball with his teammates.
For example, most patients rely on crutches for at least eight weeks before they can put weight on their injured leg.
Experts told DailyMail.com that Rodgers underwent a minimally invasive procedure, which could allow him to “overcome the impossible” and play before the end of the season.
Rodgers is also a big proponent of a largely vegan, “ancestral” diet and hallucinogenic teas, which may also have accelerated his recovery.
Rodgers suffered a torn Achilles tendon in the first quarter of the Jets’ Week 1 game against the Bills.
Rodgers has been seen walking unassisted and throwing the ball with his teammates five weeks after his Achilles injury.
Dr John Gallucci, Jr, CEO of JAG Physical Therapy in New York City, told DailyMail.com: ‘He’s doing great. He has moved the timeline forward dramatically of what we would see in a normal Achilles tendon repair.
Dr. Gallucci said the quarterback underwent a rapid bridging procedure, a minimally invasive form of Achilles tendon repair surgery that most patients do not receive.
In a rapid bridging procedure, a surgeon creates a small incision and implants a device. The sutures are passed through the impact and secured to the ends of the torn or ruptured tendon. They are then anchored to the heel or sewn to the other end of the tendon.
Dr Michael Sganga, foot and ankle surgeon at Orthopedics New England, told DailyMail.com: “If (the tendon) is anchored in the heel, it is much stronger and can be rehabilitated faster, but the most important key is that the incidents are much smaller. The skin heals quickly and people can stand and walk normally again within the first two weeks.’
“The idea is to reattach the muscle and tendon to the heel and function to move the foot and make sure to do so quickly after the injury so the muscle doesn’t atrophy and lose function.”
When a muscle atrophies, it decreases in size and eventually wastes away.
However, most patients receive an open Achilles tendon repair. This involves the surgeon making an incision in the back of the calf to locate the partially torn or completely severed tendon. The surgeon removes the damaged tissue and uses sutures to repair the tear and join the ends of the cut tendon.
The location of the tear, as well as the patient’s overall health, determine whether the patient qualifies for a quick bridge over traditional Achilles tendon repair.
The quarterback suffered the injury after being sacked by Leonard Floyd minutes into the game.
Dr. John Gallucci (left) and Dr. Michael Sgana said Rodgers could return to the field before the end of the season due to the type of procedure he underwent and his healthy lifestyle, but it will take time to know for sure.
‘For you to be a candidate for this, you would have to tear distally, which is the end of the Achilles tendon, which attaches to your heel. That’s an important component,” Dr. Gallucci said.
“A huge number of people tear their Achilles tendon in the middle of the Achilles tendon, which means there is only tissue that can be sutured.”
Dr Sganga said young and relatively healthy patients are more likely to qualify for rapid bridge recovery. However, someone with an older injury or a condition such as chronic tendonitis may require more care than a minimally invasive procedure.
STANDARD ACHILLES RECOVERY PROCESS AFTER SURGERY
Two weeks after surgery: Without weight bearing, use of crutches.
Four to six weeks: Gentle motion exercises once stitches are removed, transition to a walking boot
Six to eight weeks: Walking with the boot with light pressure and exercises with greater movement.
Eight to 12/16 weeks: General physical therapy to maintain strength and movement.
Four to six months: Specific sports rehabilitation
From six to 12 months: Greater amount of activity, depending on the sport.
Nine to 12 months: Possibility that they can play at a high level.
‘(Rodgers) is a professional football player, he is in very good shape, he eats well, he takes care of himself. “Those are things that might have made him more of a candidate for this, other than wanting to get back on the field quicker,” he said.
Rodgers has repeatedly promoted his predominantly vegan, high-protein “ancestral diet.” She reportedly eats oatmeal and fruit for breakfast, chicken or a plant-based protein and green salad for lunch, and occasionally red meat and vegetables for dinner. EXCELLENT!!
He has also recommended hallucinogenic tea which has “relieved much of the stress related to the idea of having to accomplish things before you die.”
Along with surgery, these lifestyle factors, Dr. Gallucci said, could have an impact on Rodgers’ accelerated recovery.
“When we look at it now, at about the five-week mark, it ultimately looks like it’s at the 12-week mark for a normal Achilles tendon repair. That’s the best way to look at it,” he said.
“Based on a procedure the doctor performed, we’re giving him the opportunity to do all of these things a little sooner.”
“The fact that he is a healthy candidate, knowledgeable about nutrition, rest and conditioning is definitely an opportunity for him to have an incredible result.”
‘Rest, hydration and nutrition are the factors of a better, healthier body.’
Both doctors believe it’s too early to know for sure whether Rodgers will be able to return before the end of the football season, but there is reason to believe he can “beat the impossible,” Dr. Gallucci said.
‘I believe that everything is possible. “I think his recovery is much quicker than expected and much quicker than most people with a ruptured Achilles tendon,” Dr. Sgana said.
‘It’s definitely putting pressure on him. I think he will be able to return, but time will tell.”
“I think it’s a good sign that he’s throwing the ball unassisted, but that’s a big difference between running in the pocket and playing professional football and getting hit.”
“I don’t know if he’ll get there by the end of the season. But he’s already several months ahead of the typical Achilles tendon repair. This is definitely a lot quicker than I would have expected.”