The Skinny on Achilles Tendinitis

Many runners and athletes have a lot in common, talking about the latest gear, new exercises, the weather, and of course, injuries. One in particular is Achilles tendinitis. In high school I was a sprinter and a long jumper, practicing 6 days a week for basically 4 years straight. Of course, I ended up in a boot up to my knee and missing the end of my senior season from Achilles Tendinitis, which Physio Works says “refers to tiny tears in the tissue in and around the tendon caused by overuse.”

 

The Achilles is a thick tendon that attaches your Gastrocnemius and Soleus muscle to your heel; it is one of the thickest tendons in our body. According to Physio Works “ Achilles Tendinitis is a term used that commonly refers to an inflammation of the Achilles tendon or its covering. It is in overuse injury that is common especially to joggers and jumpers, due to the repetitive action and so may occur in other activities that require the same repetitive action.” Runners are especially prone to injury there due to the repetitive foot strike of our sport. If we do not have hip flexibility this makes our foot strike shorter and in turn puts more strain on the back of our lower leg. Another common cause of Achilles tendinitis is over pronation, this occurs when your foot strikes the ground and rolls inward. Pronation is our bodies natural response to gravity and ground reaction force, this is how we naturally move, but over-pronating puts extra stress on our calf muscles and pulls on the Achilles.

           One of the best ways to prevent Achilles tendinitis is to keep your hips and calves loose. 

  1. For the hip: place one foot on a stair or a secure chair, stand nice and tall while holding on to a wall or railing and with your rear foot and front foot both pointing straight ahead, gently shift your weight to the front leg until you feel a stretch in front of your hip, hold for 30-60 seconds, gently release the stretch and duplicate on your other leg. (1st picture below)
  2. As for your Gastrocnemius muscle: borrow a tennis ball from your dog or child and place it under your lower leg, while sitting with legs straight on the ground, find a tender spot and hold for 30-120 seconds, once complete slowly come off of that spot and repeat until you have found all of the tight spots. For an example of this please checkout our IBJI HPI Wellness video from January. After that you can do a  traditional calf stretch. (Second picture below)

 

 

These two tips not only help with prevention but are also good for recovering from an injury. Following these easy steps will keep you outside enjoying these beautiful days on a nice long run. For me, these two key stretches and releases allowed me to still participate in a sport that I love and also to complete my first half marathon.

As the great George Sheehan said “ Running is play; racing is sport. Play is the preparation; sport is the performance. My training is play; my race is sport in its purest expression (Sheehan 128).” Keep yourself healthy so that you can keep playing.

- Angie Gonzalez, LMT

 

Sheehan, George. The Essential Sheehan: A lifetime of Running Wisdom from the legendary Dr. George Sheehan. Rodale, 2013. Book

http://physioworks.com.au/injuries-conditions-1/achilles-tendonitis-tendinitis

Random Ramblings on Strength and Conditioning vol. 1

Sometimes… a lot of times I get a million thoughts screaming in my head.  A lot to do with fitness, health, sports, and training.  Stuff like; what is a good way to coach someone to eat better? What would help an athlete get faster more effectively? Or if Taylor Swift will ever find true love?... Some of these are easy to answer, and others? Well, I realize I just have to shake it off.  ;)


However, some are very pertinent to what I do, they very much relate to training athletes, and health in general. So I’ve decided I’m going to start an installment I call Random Ramblings.  Where I talk about my thoughts relating to training, sports, and health in general.


I can’t say how regularly these will be posted, they’ll just be random.  In any case here are my thoughts for today.


1.) You need to earn the right to get out of sagittal - For those of you unfamiliar with what saggital means it goes like this; every movement the human body goes through is broken down into 3 planes.  Frontal or Coronal (side to side movements, i.e jumping jacks), transversal (rotational movements, i.e. swinging a baseball bat), and sagittal (back and forth movements, i.e. push-ups).


Here’s the thing; there’s something called body awareness.  Basically an awareness of where your body is in space. While one may argue that we live every day in all three planes of movement, a lot of exercises that go through the frontal and transversal planes require a lot of body awareness to be done safely and effectively. Most people truly don’t have that awareness though.


The sagittal plane is easier for people to perform an exercise in.  My athletes need to effectively squat, hip hinge, and lunge before I worry about making them do more complex movements like side lunges, rotational skater squats, etc.


This brings me to my next point.


2.) Athletes need to get out of sagittal - Okay so I know I seem like I’m contradicting myself, but hear me out… Once an athlete can demonstrate good movement in sagittal you need to get them out of sagittal.


Remember that argument about daily life being multi-planar? Well think of an athlete. Unless their a select few; athletes play multi-planar sports. They move side to side, rotationally, and sagittally.


After they master back and forth movements, and yet that’s still all you do then you are drastically hindering the athlete from reaching their full potential, and even risking them getting bored and burned out from training.


Along with that, you are better able to give them a complete workout, working every muscle in the body, and continually reducing their risk of injury.


3.) Busyness is a perceived reality - The excuse of “I’m too busy” is often the worst excuse I’ve ever heard.  If you can honestly tell me you don’t spend any time on facebook, instagram, twitter, snapchat or texting, and then tell me you’re too busy I’m liable to be more understanding.


What we think is busy probably isn’t.  Take a long honest look at your daily life.  Are there ways you can re-prioritize your time? Are there things you can say no to? Are there ways you can even effectively multi-task? I try my very hardest to catch myself from saying “I’m too busy”.  Cause honestly, I’m not, and I challenge you to think the same way.


I find it funny, but when something is important to someone they will find a way to do it.


I’m just going to say it; what we often call busyness, is often just an excuse for being lazy.


4.) For Athletes and Parents of Athletes Strength and Conditioning NEEDS to be a priority - I think too often people grow into the misconception that the only way to get better at a sport is to play a sport. While that has some merit that line of thought can lead to a slew of mishaps from; injury to burnout and everything in between.


Without the proper training athletes just go through the same motions and eventually this leads to the problems previously mentioned.  


With proper training an athlete can be made stronger, more mobile, move better, and just become a better all around athlete which will help them not just stay healthy, but experience significantly more success in their respective sport.


I see it too often, when training gets completely forgotten about and a few months later the athlete is injured.  While the proper training can’t prevent this, the chances of an injury can be significantly reduced.  


Keep in mind I’m saying PROPER training, I am willing to say that some ways athletes train is just completely counter intuitive and won’t help them at all.


However, along with training being a priority athletes need a break from their sport.  I’m not talking simply a week off, but at least allow an athlete to get a month off at some point during the year.  Where they don’t worry about their sport, and just relax and maintain where they are at through continued training.


Before you overcommit yourself or your young athlete with tournaments and a million different club teams, make sure that the athlete has enough time to actually train and to actually rest.  Pure raw skill and ability without anything backing it up will only get an athlete so far, and if it’s constantly drawn upon, well they could very well get hurt.


There you have it, my random thoughts of recent.

-Dave