Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Achilles Tendonitis

I've had chronic Achilles tendonitis for nearly a year. It's a real bastard. It gives me the shits. It's the second time this has happened. Five or six years ago when it happened it took over a year to go away. It really stuffed up my fitness program.

I had it for a year on one Achilles and just as that one came good, bugger me it went to the other Achilles.

Running aggravates it. The stepper is a bit less so and I've had to take up walking - for god's sake.

I've taken advice from all sorts of people.

  • Stretch your calf muscles before you run. Every man and his dog tells me this, but it's a well nigh useless piece of advice because the problem is not a tight calf muscle. I've tried it and it doesn't work
  • Strengthen your calves. One fitness trainer of an elite level rugby club said, 'If you can't do 40 heel raises (heel going up and down on a step) on the trot your calf muscles are too weak.' I can only do about 20 and heaven knows how I've tried. As anyone who's done heal raises will attest, it burns like hell after about ten.
  • Get orthotics - but at $800 a throw I'm reluctant to make the move. Plus I'm more interested in knowing what the cause of the problem is. It is not a lack of orthotic!

Nine months ago I was at a chiropractic stand at the FILEX fitness convention in Sydney and stood on two scales, left leg on one and right leg on the other. The weight on the right scale was 6 Kg heavier than the weight on the left scale.

So, I gave the chiros the benefit of the doubt and went to a local chiro for a few sessions. But all he had to offer was the pea-shooter treatment and a bit of bullshit new-age muscle testing. Another couple of hundred bucks down the drain. He didn't even give me a decent crunch.

I thought it might have been a tight left buttock, believing, as I do that the cause of the pain is rarely at the site of the pain, and that the tight buttock muscle was twisting the pelvis, placing pressure on the right Achilles. I find it harder to sit up straight when I've got my right leg under my left than vice versa.

So I've been doing one of my buttock stretches much more regularly. It doesn't seem to have helped

BUT, I picked up Pete Egoscue's book 'Pain Free' again yesterday to see what he had to say about the matter. (I brought the book away on holidays, just in case I found time to read it. I made time.)

Of course, the cause is not at the site of the pain, and as I suspected it's driven by a pelvis that's out of alignment, not by the tight left buttock muscles but by some other muscle(s).

I wouldn't have a clue which muscles they are, and I don't think it matters much.

The advice Egoscue gives is to do a particular exercise, feet up against the wall – bottom in as close as you can get.

Well yesterday I spent a couple of hours doing this exercise - with a couple of variations - reading a book and dozing off.

At the beginning of the day my calves were so tight I was hanging out of a calf massage. The first few steps when I got up were painful. Earlier in the week Christine and I had been to the Australian Institute of Sport for the ice and heat treatment. The heat treatment comes from the very hot spa out there, with very powerful jets. It's the cheapest physical therapy in Canberra.

It felt good at the time; didn't work.

Bingo! Today after yesterday's session doing the wall exercise it felt a lot better. The first few steps didn't hurt, the pressure was off. So I did 15 minutes slow jogging on the treadmill in the hotel before breakfast and another 15 minutes before tea.

I'm happy to report it feels OK, in fact better than OK, it's the best it's felt for over a year.

Now, I know that a single swallow does not s summer make, but I'm optimistic.

I'll continue doing the exercise and report back.

But I'm not going to go at it like a bull at a gate. I'm going to take it easy, some very light jogging, mixed with walking.

If I wasn't on holidays I'd provide you with a copy of the exercise in this post.

Half rat power
I've made a decision, from now on, any exercise with the heart rate less than 100 bpm is exercising at half rat power, so from now on any walking only gets half a point per minute on the aerabyte scale.

Today's aerabytes: jogging with heart rate just over 110 for 30 minutes equates to 60 aerabytes. Big deal, But I'm on an Achilles rehab program while I'm on holidays, down here at the Novotel in Wollongong.

Still it's holidays, we're only having breakfast and tea - and missing out on lunch.

In the mean time stay tuned, highly tuned and read Pete Egoscue's book, 'Pain Free' available from www.fitandhealthyonline.com

John Miller

Labels: , ,

Sunday, December 20, 2009


I've been searching the internet for information about the causes of back pain.

Most of the information is vapid and useless, like this.

'There isn't usually an underlying condition causing back pain - nothing shows up in tests and nothing is permanently damaged.'

That's because the tests are useless. You can't tell what's caused a herniated disc by looking at an X-ray. Of course there is an underlying cause, but if you don't know where to look for it you won't find it!

It's a bit like Alice coming to the fork in the road and asking the Cheshire cat which road she should take. His response, 'Where are you going?' Her reply, I don't know.' His response again, 'Then any road will get you there.'

For most doctors the cause of back pain will be something like a herniated disc. Do they have an answer to the cause of the herniated disc? Nope. You're back where you started.

That's because only rarely will a doctor check to see which of your muscles are tight and which are weak. Only rarely will a doctor prescribe exercises to get you stronger and more flexible.

It is muscles that pull bones out of alignment.

You're more likely to develop simple back pain if you:
- stand, sit or bend down for long periods
- lift, carry, push or pull loads that are too heavy,
- have a trip or a fall
- are stressed or anxious
- are overweight.

Yep, sounds right, but rarely will you see that the principal cause is a lack of strength and flexibility.

Certainly the over weight one is right. If you're 20Kg overweight you're setting yourself up for musculo-skeletal dysfunction

As for lifting and pushing loads that are too heavy. How heavy is a computer mouse, or a library book, of a bag of fertilizer? These are loads that regular folks ought to be able to lift without coming down with a crook back. These are the sorts of loads which get blamed for the underlying lack of strength.

Bad workman have always blamed their tools.

It's bunkum. You need a good strength and flexibility training program. I've got just the one for you.

In the mean time stay tuned, highly tuned and remember, you can't solve a fitness problem with a medical solution.

John Miller

Labels: , ,

Monday, December 14, 2009


It's a strange thing indeed when people who complain about back pain sitting down, keep sitting down.

They ask the OH&S staff for a new $800 chair.

Their back doesn't get any better. Duh! Like most bad workmen, people with back pain are still blaming their tools.

Sitting down is one of the main causes of back pain, because if you do it for long enough, sooner or later your calf, hamstring and buttock muscles will shorten, tilting your pelvis back and moving the bones of your spinal column out of alignment. You start to feel pressure on your ligaments, tendons, muscles and discs. More pressure, more pain.

You end up looking like this.

The natural 'S' shaped curve of your spine has become a 'C' shape.

Repetitive strain injuryOrganisations have an obligation to protect people from the biggest repetitive strain activity in modern workplaces - sitting down.

These days there is no obligation for people to be required to sit down all day. They can do their work just as well standing up, or kneeeing.

All they need is the right office set up. Like this.

In fact, without much trouble you can get people to stand up, put a box on their desks to accommodate the keyboard and the mouse and let them get on with their work. In the long run they'll bless you. You prevent the continued shortening of calve, hamstring and buttock muscles. Pelvois and vetrebrae stay in better alignm,ent. Pain goers away. Miraculous!

No-one ever said you had to sit down all day.

It's got to the point where if people aren't prepared to take a bit of time out, in company time, to do a few exercises each day, you can't afford tho let them sit down.

So, if you've got back pain sitting down: stand up!

In the mean time stay tuned, highly tuned and if you suffer from back pain sitting down, start doing the exercises outlined in the Fix Back Pain ebook at http://www.globalbackcare.com/

John Miller

Labels: , , ,


If you get back pain at home it's a symptom that occurs when the bones of your spinal column are out of alignment.

The pain is telling you that ligaments, tendons and muscles have reached their pain threshold.

The pain is telling you to get your body back into alignment.

Now, it's not going to happen over night, but there are definitely exercises you can do to get your pelvis and your spinal column back into better alignment. Absolutely.

Here's an exercise that will be particularly helpful.
Start doing the hip crosss-over over and over again while lying on the floor. You can do it while you;re watching TV, just stick a cushion under you head to make it more comfortable.

Build up so that you can spend 5 minutes one side and the 5 minutes the other for 40 minutes in total.

If you're pelvis and spinal column is so far out of alignment that you can't put your knee and foot on the floor, rest them on some books, and gradually during the course of the session keep taking books away as the muscles around your hip gradually loosen off.

You may be surprised at how soon you can rest with your knee and foot on the floor.

This is an every-night-exercise and in about 2 months your back should be feeling a whole lot better.

This is a fix, but it's not a quick fix.

Just ask yourself how long it's taken for your back to become out of alignment? Years, decades. Now just give it a couple of months every night to fix the damage.

Here's something else you can do. While in bed, lie on your back and put your lower legs on a couple of pillows. That should bring relief.

Of course there's a lot more you can do to speed up the rehab process. You'll find more of the exercises you need to do in the Fix back Pain ebook available from http://www.globalbackcare.com/.

In the mean time stay tuned, highly tuned and remember, it's a big ask expecting to get better by having someone do something to you; sooner or later you have to do something to yourself.

John Miller


Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


A huge number of people complain about back pain at work.

In fact there is always the tedency to blame work for the pain, though usually that's unfair.

It's not what's done at work that causes back pain but what people don't do at home.

If you don't have a strength and flexibility training program there is a high likelihood that your're going to get back pain at some time.

So, knowing people don't do the exercises at home, there is any number of compelling reasons why it's worthwhile for organisations to implement a back care exercise program at work.

But as soon as you say that, someone (often an OH&S manage for some strange reason) will say, 'But you can't force people to do exercises at work?'

I always find this an astounding comment when the cost to the workplace can be so horrendous.

While an organisation is paying the workers compensation premiums, they certainly can tell their staff to do a few exercises, and give them the time to do it.

In the long run, and after they get used to it, the staff will thank the organisation.

It's all about culture. The Chinese and Japanese don't seem to have the same issues around the culture of expecting staff to do a few exercises that our culture does.

Change the culture - from the top down, bottom up and sideways.


John Miller

Labels: , , ,