Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Achilles is a pain in the ass

Got an achilles problem but not sure what caused it? Join the club. Infact, I only joined the club in the past week and it's very very minor but concern about the effect on training is high - which, ladies and gentlemen, is a head fuck for people like us.

So in the pursuit to make sure it doesn't stop me running, here's some things I've come across. Before starting though, I'd like to add that in no way am I medically qualified to offer advice and have no experience of this injury to backup any of this research - I'm just sharing what I've found and have added some of my own assumptions (for my own injury) which you can ignore at your own will.

What is it?
The achilles tendon connects your calf muscle to the back of your heel. As the Police sang, it does it's duty in every step you take. These videos show what tendons do and what achilles tendonitis is.





What could have caused it?
You know what you were doing around the time of the injury and because alot of us record our efforts on things like Strava, you can track back quite easily.  It could simply be overuse, which is very likely if you're training hard for something. It could be a little less straightforward though. Did you change anything?

Have you changed a component on your bike? Have you introduced a mahoosive hill into your route? Have you changed your trainers or cycling shoes? Have you done too much in one day? Did you change your insole? I started at this point because my intensity and frequency is the same as it ever has been, so it must have been something different.  Track back to when the pain started.

My spidey senses got to the conclusion quite quickly: I did a run and a long bike session in the same day. Yes, you could argue its overuse but I've been doing that for a while. Same trainers for the run. Same bike for the ride.  Or was it? No. I did upgrade my seat the day before. The chap in the shop measured my buttocks on a seat-measuring-tool thing, advised the seat I should buy (which is very comfortable I might add) and fitted it for me and...err... screech to a Roadrunner halt right there.

Did he fit it with the same adjustments as the previous seat?
Did he lower the seat post?
What did he do differently?
Did I ride differently because I had a new seat?
Am I droping my heel or pointing my toes too much?

Whatever happened, it has given me an injury. I'm going to march [hobble] back in there and smack him (not really, nice chap and all that).

What do I do about it now?
Once you've stopped overthinking the problem, do something to fix it. If you're like me, it's the initial stages and is termed as 'acute' not 'chronic'.  If you're not acute and in a lot of pain just walking to the snack cupboard, go to the docs, you damned fool.

Like I said, I don't know what the dickens I'm talking about on this subject but sought some simple advice from the best channel on earth - YouTube.  Lo and behold, the search served-up a straightforward chap who fixes Premier League football players - Neal Reynolds.  Topline is 'don't screw around with this injury'.

Here he describes 3 stages to addressing the problem.

Initial treatment of Achilles Tendonitis


Rehabilitation of the Achilles Tendonitis


Late stage rehabilitation of the Achilles Tendonitis


Exercises to help
Neal mentions eccentric exercises for Achilles tendinopathy to get back on track, so here's a few from La Trobe University Musculoskeletal Research Centre:

Part 1 (bit slow but bare with it)


Part 2


Part 3


Part 4

Prevention
Stop doing what you think you did of course.  In my case, there is an immediate need for some bike setup advice - and that's a bigger story - with more Tinternet research. Standby for a post on that.

Lastly, if you've got some KT Tape, here's a supportive strap-up which could be useful.




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