STACEY LAW: WALK IT, RUN IT, BIKE IT, LOVE IT! Each month Stacey Law, physiotherapist and pilates trainer at Bodyneed Ponsonby, answers your questions about staying active, keeping fit, and feeling great – every day! Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT ACHILLES/HEEL PAIN? I have been running on and off for a number of years but never very seriously. Recently I have increased my training, as I would like to run and hike for ‘The Dual’ Event this March on Motutapu Island. Unfortunately I have struggled with on-going Achilles pain over the years and with the increase in training it seems to be getting worse. Should I be worried? I can still run but it is pretty sore. With thanks, JUDY SWIFT, Ponsonby
The Achilles tendon is the thickest and strongest tendon in our bodies – but it is also quite susceptible to damage and overuse injury. Achilles tendinopathy is a degeneration of the tendon and can occur with an increase in training volume or intensity as the load applied to the tendon exceeds its ability to withstand that load. Unfortunately tendons don’t have a great blood supply and therefore we have to be really careful to rehabilitate them properly.
Because of the fact that your pain has been intermittent for a long period, and that it is now getting worse, I would recommend that you do something about it as soon as possible. Ignoring warning signs with your Achilles can lead to a more chronic problem, or even worse – a rupture of the tendon. Many factors can contribute to the development of Achilles tendon problems. These may be musculoskeletal issues such as tight calf muscles, and stiffness in the ankle/foot joints or abnormal lower limb biomechanics, or they can be due to changes in your training such as increased volume or intensity and decreased rest time between sessions. The first thing that I would advise is to check that your shoes are appropriate for your foot type and activity. Inadequate support can cause the structures around your foot and ankle to overwork and put increased load on the tendon. If you are concerned that your shoes are not right for you get them checked by a podiatrist or specialty shoe store. There are a number of things that can be done to address Achilles problems and prevent further damage. A physiotherapist can help in the following ways: • Strengthening programme – a progressive programme to strengthen the tendon under load is imperative to improve its capacity to absorb load • Stretches – an appropriate stretch programme for your lower limb to reduce tension in the surrounding muscles • Soft tissue work – to the lower limb and Achilles, including deep tissue massage, trigger point release and frictions of the tendon to break down any scar tissue that may have formed • Acupuncture – where appropriate to help speed healing in the tendon • Corrective training – for alignment and muscle balance problems that can lead to increased stress being placed on the tendon It’s never a good idea to ignore problems and continue to train through them. With some help from an expert I’m sure you will conquer the Dual next year! PN BODYNEED PONSONBY, 27 Crummer Road T: 09 360 8821 www.bodyneed.co.nz
The World Belongs to the Dissatisfied
DEADLINE – 20TH OF THE MONTH December 2010 PONSONBY NEWS+