Running is an excellent way to get fit! However, sometimes when we start a new program we can feel little niggles beginning to arise. Achilles tendinopathy is a common injury among runners, especially those who are increasing their training load.
What is the achilles?
The achilles tendon is the biggest and strongest tendon in the body located in the back of the lower leg. The tendon has the capacity to resist large forces. It stems from the calf muscles (the gastrocnemius and soleus) and inserts into the heel of our foot (the calcaneus).
What is Achilles Tendinopathy?
A tendinopathy is a disorder which can happen when there is disrepair and disorganisation within the tendon structure. This can happen when there is excessive load placed on the structure, for example if someone starts running and increases their mileage too quickly.
The effects of overuse, poor circulation, lack of flexibility, gender, and hormonal factors can lead to tendinopathies. The structure of the tendon is disturbed by repetitive strain, causing inflammation. This cumulative microtrauma weakens the tendon, which ultimately leads to tendinopathy, especially if recovery is not allowed.
In recent years, there has been a significant increase in people running. With resources like couch to 5Km applications and programs, making running more appealing and accessible than ever. However, this increase has come with a cost. Before starting on one of these programs, I would highly recommend a physio consultation with a structured rehab plan specific to you and your body. These programs are generic, meant for the general population.
A high majority of people will report a traumatic injury of the ankle at some point in their lifetime, most of which are a result of sport. 75% of injuries at the ankle occur on the lateral (outside) aspect and so, this article will focus on the management of these particular injuries. In the Netherlands, approximately 520,000 people annually report a traumatic injury of the ankle of which 200,000 are a result of sport. Only half of the injuries receive medical attention and 40% develop chronic ankle instability (CAI). Of the people who play sport, 60-90% resume the same level of sporting performance 12 weeks after the injury.
The general incidence of lower body injuries in runner ranges from 19.4 to 79.3 percent. The knee is the most commonly injured body part (42%). The most common complaints are achilles tendinopathy, patellofemoral pain syndrome, shin splints, iliotibial band (ITB) syndrome, plantar fasciopathy and stress fractures of the foot and tibia.
With the ringing in of a new year comes the commitment to resolutions which usually involve health. Gyms are exceptionally busier in January with the majority of us vowing to get fit this year. Running is a common starting place for most as it is free and requires little to no equipment. However, novice runners have a high injury risk and usually end up in a Physio clinic or quitting! So here is a list of tips to reduce the risk of injury and prolong your new running career.
One of the questions I get asked the most is what are the best stretches to do.
Really you consider first the reason for doing the stretching. If its to get ready for an activity such as running or playing a sport you should warm up with dynamic stretching. If you are looking to increase your flexibility, warm down or prevent injury you can opt for static stretching.