A month of debilitating Achilles pain and the fear of another summer of no running was dispelled this week with some sound advice.
I was resigned to a bout of chronic Achilles tendinitis but after some exchange of emails with Helen at Finefettle with some great stretching advice and the running God's are shining back down on me.
Helen, who had helped me through my nightmare tendon busting ankle injury last year, advised me on trying some eccentric stretching. I had been stretching my calf's religiously the last month with the typical leaning against the wall exercises, leg straight, leg bent blah blah blah.I had been prescribed to do these plus foam rolling last time around when I had the same problem 4 years ago, but I had never heard of eccentric stretching before.
4 years ago the injury was chronic and it took months to get over, this time round it felt the same, waking every morning and taking those first painful steps till the tendon got warmed up after it's night of inactivity. I had nothing to lose, so one lunchtime I took myself out of the office and onto the lobby stairs. I completed 3 sets of 15 reps of the two exercises advised, one with the leg straight and the another with the knee slightly bent.
It's important to start in the raised position and then lowering the heel of the injured leg below the step, that's the full eccentric stretch.
After a few minutes back sat at my desk my Achilles had a pleasant warming feeling to it and then suddenly felt like some sort of movement restriction had been released in my right ankle. That's the best way I can describe it and after just one session the pain for the rest of the afternoon had all but disappeared. It truly was like a miracle! Surely after 5 minutes of stretching this nightmare of a runners injury was not cured?
The exercises should be carried out 2 or 3 times a day, which I am sticking to.
The next day I head out for a short 4 mile run with only the slightest murmuring from my beaten Achilles tendinitis!
At the time of writing I've now gone 4 days of stretching and the results have been miraculous. I'm going to keep the mileage down over the weekend and take the runs steady.
My calf muscle has been a little sore after completing the exercises but this is apparently quite normal.
I may have caught my injury early this time round and responded well to the stretching, it may not be for everyone but if anyone out there gets the slightest murmuring of their Achilles, get onto these stretches straight away!!!
This is the link to a YouTube video that shows you how to carry out the stretches correctly.