Raise your hand if you've ever had issues with your ankles? Yep, Mine is up. I've never had an injury from my ankles (thank goodness) however there was once a time where I couldn't do a single trail run without feeling severe tightness in my shins and ankles before reaching the top of the climb. THIS should have been my red flag warning that something isn't right, PAIN is NOT normal my friends. Yes, as runners we joke about how stubborn we are. How we can outrun any niggle or pain, yet it's just a time bomb waiting to express itself in the least opportune time (as if an injury has any is appropriate time to happen).
Our Achilles is not a fragile tendon. Look down on the back of your ankle, that tendon that connects to your 2 major calf muscles is your achilles, this guy can suspend a Ford Truck up in the air, it's so strong.
Think about your AT as a bow and arrow. When your foot makes contact with the ground, your AT lengthens to push back with equal force (Newton's 3rd Law- For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction) AKA Ground Reaction Force. It then shortens, releasing the absorbed energy back into your stride, like an arrow releases from a bow. Our AT is the root of this system known as the Muscle-Tendon Elasticity System. It also can be thought of as a spring, or shock absorber that has a chain like reaction. (Nicholas Romanov)
So, if our tendons, more specifically our AT, was designed to be like a spring how does it become injured or inflamed?
1) Excessive hill running (or lack of preparation for the hill running)
2) No warmup, agility practice in your daily running regiment.
1) Excessive hill running-or my 2 cents, lack of preparation for hill running. Before you hit the trail head are you breathing hard? Is your body warm? Have you even spent 5 minutes stretching your lower extremities? Try adding these 3 moves into your daily warm up:
2) Plank-Down Dowg
2)No Agility Practice- We must always prepare our tissues and joints to be active before we require them to move. Running is one of THE highest impact sports we can perform, therefore we should treat our warmup like such. IF we want to improve with our running we must take our tissues and joints along for the ride= preparing our body for impact.
ALWAYS perform 10-15 minutes of agility/warm up drills to the point of either an elevated HR . A good indication is that warm up jacket/hoodie needs to come off.
Some good warm up drills include:
1) Varied Position Squats
2) Toe In/Out Jumps
3) Pony Drills to Pose
4) Bilateral Hops to Pose
5) Jumping Jack- Skier Jumps
6)Heel - Toe Rocks
I hope this gives you a better idea of how to take care of your Achilles! If you have any questions feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org and subscribe to my bi-monthly newsletter!
I'm passionate about running, fitness, nutrition and all things that make me and everyone else a better version of ourselves.