Daily lessons through the art of Muay Thai

Monday, January 28, 2008

Winterizing Your Workout: Achilles Care

One thing you will never suffer in Thailand is waking up to run on a 19 degree morning. This winter, I have noticed and unprecedented amount of Achilles and calf muscle injuries at the gym so this blog is dedicated to finding out little more about the function and care of this powerful and overworked area of the lower leg.

First a little anatomy lesson. Here is a sketch of the Achilles Tendon

*This information is supported or provided by www.Achillestendon.com*

The Achilles tendon is fibrous tissue that connects the heel to the muscles of the lower leg: the calf muscles. Leg muscles are the most powerful muscle group in the body and the Achilles tendon is the thickest and strongest tendon in the body. Contracting the calf muscles pulls the Achilles tendon, which pushes the foot downward. This contraction enables: standing on the toes, walking, running, and jumping. Each Achilles tendon is subject to a person's entire body weight with each step. Depending upon speed, stride, terrain and additional weight being carried or pushed, each Achilles tendon may be subject to up to 3-12 times a person's body weight during a sprint or push off

WHY US!!!! In muay Thai every movement we make is a sprint or push off the floor.

Blame: Running, kicking, skip knees, agility drills, squat thrusts, and turning your feet on your punches. Not to mention this is usually done all in one session FOR HOURS.

Now add the cold weather and the fact that many of us don't even know what a warm up or cool down is unless it means kicking the bag 300 times before you go home.

Sound familiar? Read on....


Undue strain results in over 230,000 Achilles tendon injuries per year in the U.S. alone.

The undue strain could be caused by a variety of factors, including:

· tightness or weakness of the leg, knee, hip, or back; high or low arches

· uneven leg lengths

· alternating between high (2") heels and exercise shoes (ladies! This especially pertains to you! eh hem and me too)

· and/or sudden (rather than gradual) increases in training such as running faster, further, or up steeper hills. (weekend warriors, this pertains to you!)

Here are some things you may know about PREVENTING these injuries and some things you probably never heard of

Arch support is key to preventing Achilles Injuries. Many people find relief from this kind of pain by buying cushy insoles or getting custom arch supports made.
I know we work out in our bare feet most of the time, but running is a different game. Buy good shoes and replace them every 4-6 months. Once your shoes break down, injury is sure to follow. If you already have issues, wear shoes for junp rope and other high impact drills. The extra support will help prevent further damage.
Insufficient calcium could lead to tight muscles, resulting in excess Achilles tendon strain. Calcium is needed for effective muscle contraction as well as strong teeth and bones. If you don't have enough in your system, the body will take it from your muscles to give to the bones. Take a vitamin or consume calcium fortified products

Warm up slowly, stretch, run, cool down and stretch AGAIN. This will add about 10 minutes to your base running time BUT it takes MONTHS to heal an Achilles injury. (no pun intended) You do the math. Get to the gym earlier or stay later. I have actually taken to running after class sometimes if I can't get the appropriate warm up time in before class. My calf muscles and Achilles tendonitis have felt great because of this small change up in routine.

Watch your soreness level. That pain you feel is the muscle breaking down and repairing itself to come back even stronger. If you do not supply the muscles with proper rest and recovery, the muscles get weaker and more susceptible to tear.

LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. You cannot fight your way through every ache and pain. Train smarter and you will be able to train harder, longer and injury free. < LI>

For more questions about your poor aching Achilles contact me or drop a comment.

Happy Training…….


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