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

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