Monday, 13 September 2010

Achillies Injury - Complete Recovery Guide

Sport Injury Clinics are expensive places, I should know. So I thought why not share what I have learned through having my own injury. This may not be specific to everyone but I reckon this is a pretty good guide to anyone who has suffered or is suffering with an Achillies Injury. I have commented on the injury through older posts but I'd thought I would bring it all together in this Post.

OK lets rewind 9 weeks. This was the point to when I realised on a 12 mile run that I had to stop. The trouble with an Achillies injury is that although usually stiff first thing in the morning it warms up as you get up an about, so at the start of a run there is usually very little pain.

By the end of this specific run though I had pains shooting through my calf muscles that suggested enough was enough.

Although the Internet is a wonderful place to get advice, I decided I needed some proffesional advice personal to me.

The following is advice given to me for my specific injury. Please seek your own proffesional advice initially. But hopefully the advice below will be helpful to anyone who is suffering from a similar injury.

1. Using a foam roller

You can purchase a roller on the Internet or any good Sports Store. Firstly sit on the floor with your feet resting on the roller. Now lift yourself off the floor with your arms and hands at the side of you, put one leg on top of the other (as shown in the diagram) and roll yourself forward and back from the ankle to under the knee. As you roll back towards your heart push down more weight with your top leg to really get deep into the muscle. If you feel a particular spot, stop for a moment to give more time on that particular spot.

Make sure to work all around the muscles by turning your feet inwards and outwards to get to the side of the muscles. Spend about 3 minutes per leg.

To get a more intense workout on the muscles you can replace the roller for a tennis ball and really work on the problem areas.

For your information the two muscles that you are loosening here are the Gastrocnemius (the big bulky one) which attaches to the heel with the Achillies Tendon and the lower muscle the Soleus. In my case these muscles are so tight which is causing strain on the Achillies.

After completing the above for two weeks

2. Foot Exercises

The great thing about this exercise is that you can do this anywhere, any time. At your desk or on the bus! Probably not while you're driving though!

While sitting down extend your leg and gently pull your foot up towards you, twist to the left, point your toes down away from you and finally twist to the right. All the movement needs to be in the foot only from the ankle. This is a good exercise to get some strength back in the ankle area, aim to complete this for a few minutes each foot, 3 times a day.

3. One leg balance

Ok I'm guessing not many of us are expert tight rope walkers, so if you need something to grab onto near by you when you do this exercise I would recommend it!

This again gets strength back into the feet and through the core of the body. Raise one foot of the ground and what you're aiming for here is to keep balance for 2 minutes per leg. You will wobble around when first attempting this. Notice the small movements in the foot as you balance this is great in strengthing your feet and ankles.

4. Gastroc stretch

Remember this is the big bulky calf muscle. Stand in front of a wall in the stance as shown in the diagram. With feet flat you need to stretch out the back leg and lean forward slighty. The important thing here is to keep your back leg straight. Don't go to far into the stretch, you're looking for a 5 out of 10 feeling in the muscle. If it's hurting ease of a little and take in deep breaths while performing this exercise to get the oxygen to the muscle. Complete for a few minutes on each leg. 
5. Soleus stretch

This is the lower of the calf muscles. You peform this exercise exactly as the previous but this time, keeping your back leg foot flat bend your knee. This time you will feel the pull lower down. Again deep breathing with a few minutes on each leg and ease of the bend if you feel too much pain.
6. The Recovery Run

This is where I'm at now. I've been performing the above for about 5 weeks now (I have not run for 9). So the next step is getting back to running. Obviously this needs to be performed slowly and i'm afraid if you've not run for this sort of time, you are back to square one!

Firstly complete the two above stretches, walk for five minutes, before again stretching. Now a 5 minute slow jog (Any pain, STOP!). Stretch again, finish with a five minute walk guessed it STRETCH again. When you're back home sitting in front of your computer reading the 'Running OK in the UK blog!!! Ice the Achillies, 3 minutes on, 3 minutes off. Repeat 3 times.

You now need to rest for a couple of days before repeating the above running protocol (you can still do all the above exercises in between). If everything was Ok then add 5 minutes to each run when you go out.

I hope the above is helpful to someone. It's a pretty long boring post if you are not suffering with this type of injury, but it is a very common one so maybe useful in the future but I hope not.

I've put in a couple of video links from the sportsinjuryclinic website which show the types of massage which can acompany the above exercises.

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