In “How To Fix Your Achilles Heel, Part 1: Reducing Recovery Time” we went though some of the best treatment options to get you back on your feet quickly. In this post, we address another important question:
How do you make sure it doesn’t come back?
In order to allow any tissue that is injured to fully heal, you need to eliminate abnormal stress to that body part. Did you go all out on a new workout routine and add too much to fast? Then your body needs a more gradual build up of intensity this next time around. Calves tight? Use the soft tissue techniques addressed in Part 1, and when the acute Achilles pain is gone make sure you are stretching regularly. Overtrained or changed your shoes? You get the idea…
But what if none of these apply to you? What if you did everything right and you still developed this nagging Achilles? You need to look deeper and more than likely, you need to look elsewhere. Your body is likely compensating for a lack of flexibility (in a joint or muscle) or a weakness in your legs, hips or core, and as a result the Achilles is overstressed. This is how the help of a physical therapist at Carolina Sports Clinic will help you get back and active as soon as possible.
Look to the ankles and hips. Do you have full motion? At least 20 degrees of Dorsiflexion – the motion where you pull your foot up towards your head – and 10 degrees of hip extension – pulling your leg behind your body – are considered normal. These motions are required whenever you run, squat, jump (pretty much all the things being successful in sports entails), otherwise your body often responds by shortening your stride, coming up on your toes prematurely, and failing to use your glutes as the main source of power. Are your glutes strong enough to be the main power house? Are the stabilizing muscles in the ankle and foot strong? If you don’t have the strength and motion you need in other areas, you are putting a ton of unnecessary stress on your calves and Achilles with every step, jump, and pivot.
Manual techniques including joint mobilization and an exercise program including hip and ankle strengthening exercises provided by a physical therapist at Carolina Sports Clinic in South Park can quickly get your ankles and hips strong and moving normally, making sure your Achilles tendons stay healthy for the long run.