Following 18 seasons with the Green Bay Packers, Aaron Rodgers was traded to the New York Jets at the conclusion of the 2022 NFL season. Widely regarded as one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history, his move to a consistently disappointing team was highly anticipated.
On the 4th play of the first game of the season, Rodgers was sacked by a Buffalo Bills defensive player and appeared to be in discomfort immediately. Whilst the specific mechanism was unknown at the time, it appeared to be a serious injury involving his knee, ankle or foot. Rodgers’ was supported off the ground by the medical staff and taken for an X-ray. The results were negative, meaning there were no fractures, but left the stadium in a moon boot following fears of an injury to his Achilles.
As the game progressed, better footage of the incident was shown.
From this image, you can see Rodgers’ foot firmly planted on the ground with the bodyweight of the defender pressing down on his lower leg. This dorsiflexed position of his foot caused significant pressure on his Achilles, leading to it tearing.
Following the confirmation of an Achilles tear, Rodgers will miss the rest of the season.
Rehabilitation for an Achilles tear and surgery typically involves a well structured program designed to regain strength, flexibility, and function in the lower leg and ankle. When it tears, whether partially or completely, surgical intervention is often required to repair it due to its pivotal role in being the connective band that connects the calf and the heel/foot. Here’s a general overview of what rehab entails for an Achilles tear and surgery.
1. Immobilisation Phase (Post-Surgery):
Following surgery, Rodgers will likely be in a cast, boot or brace to completely immobilise the ankle and protect the surgical repair. In this phase, he will be completely non-weight bearing on the affected leg.
2. Early Rehabilitation (Weeks 1-6):
The main goal of the early rehabilitation phase is to control pain and reduce inflammation. Gentle and conservative range of motion exercises may prevent joint stiffness which can be a secondary cause of pain. He may transition gradually from a cast to a heavily supported walking boot with the use of crutches when required.
3. Strengthening Phase (Weeks 6-12+):
The rehabilitation focus transitions to a greater focus on strengthening the involved tissues as a beginning point to getting back to activity. The physical therapy will become more intensive, focusing on strengthening the calf muscles and the Achilles tendon. Along with manual therapy, exercises may include calf raises, resistance training and balance exercises. Weight bearing will be introduced slowly and gradually as the tendon heals. Range of motion exercises will continue to improve flexibility and mobility of the joint.
4. Functional Rehabilitation (Weeks 12+):
As the fundamental strength and flexibility improves, functional activities such as walking, jogging and eventually running will slowly be incorporated. Agility and sport-specific movements will be introduced under heavy supervision and caution. Plyometric exercises will be added later on once confidence and strength has been developed in running.
5. Return to Activity (Months 4-6+):
Although this will be beyond the 2023-2024 NFL season, Rodgers will be able to return back to normal activity that will build a big base for the 2024-2025 NFL season. His rehab program will be tailored specifically to him, considering he is turning 40 years old this year they will be very conservative how they re-introduce him to sport.
Despite the injury, Rodgers has already confirmed that he intends on playing football again next season. We all look forward to seeing him back at his best next season.