Preventing Achilles Tendon Injuries
One of the most annoying and debilitating injuries to sustain are to the Achilles tendon. This is partly due to the fact that they are used for nearly every movement using the legs and feet. From walking, jumping to kicking and the extraordinary loads they carry in these movements. Here are four highly effective ways of preventing Achilles tendon injuries:
Preventing Achilles Tendon Injuries – Mobility
Ensure adequate ankle mobility and calf flexibility. A simple assessment of this is to check your squat depth mobility. The reason for this is to assess your “loaded” and active Dorsiflexion range. If you are unable to reach the bottom of a full depth squat (hamstring covering the calves) without your heels raising off the ground, that is your immediate red flag!
Your calves and Achilles have shortened far too much and desperately need to be stretched. The tricky thing about stretching the calves is they are accustomed to supporting our entire body weight. So to stretch them it requires additional weight, the simplest way is to do 1 leg at a time. Also constantly working on improving squat depth will help concurrently. This will help increase both the length and elasticity of the calf and Achilles tendon and the suppleness
Preventing Achilles Tendon Injuries – Nutrition
Make sure nutrition and supplementation are taken care of. Some simple nutrition hacks are to immediately increase caloric intake. Do this using high nutrient density carb sources to ensure calorie and nutrient intake is adequate. Typically most tendon injuries will occur in caloric deficits so by boosting food consumption this problem is fixed. As well when eating meat proteins, consume the connective tissue as well (the tendons, cartilage).
This gives the exact nutrients needed for your own connective tissue health and is a cheap method. Next is look at supplementation. Berberine HCl, adrenal glandular, and vitamin C are crucial in prevention! The Achilles’ tendon is the attaching tendon for the calf to the heel and is linked with adrenal health in applied kinesiology.
When adrenal dysfunction occurs from stress, like overtraining, the calves get beat up even more and don’t recover. This causes further damage to the Achilles. Covering these will go a long way in preventing Achilles’ tendon inflammation, tears and potentially even ruptures. A healthy, nourished tendon is a strong tendon.
Preventing Achilles Tendon Injuries – Strength
Eccentric strength training the calves. One reason for tendon injuries is that they get too much volume too soon. They are repeatedly hammered from explosive activities. These require fast and powerful eccentric contractions of the connected muscle. These rapid eccentric contractions cause increased microdamage leading to either inflammation or at worst a full tendon rupture!
Strengthening the tendon requires heavy loading eccentrically. The reason for eccentric loading being best for tendon strength improvements is because the tendon tissue is extremely strong and dense. It can support more than what the calf muscle can lift up. Also, this will cause greater increases in tendon and calf muscle hypertrophy.
The injury is often caused by eccentric contractions, strengthening and increasing the tendon girth will boost injury prevention. A simple way to start this is to do calf raise variations. Start off doing them single leg BUT use both legs to raise the load back to the top and repeat. Start with a weight that would be ~90-95% of your 1RM (what you lift for four reps) for single leg calf raise. Now do six eccentric reps per leg, making sure to lower the weight for 4-5s each rep and do 3-5 sets!
Preventing Achilles Tendon Injuries – Warm Up
Properly warm up! Why is a proper warm up so important to the Achilles’ tendon and preventing injury to it? That’s because tendon tissue has no contractile property. It only stretches and rebounds, muscle (the calf) has the contractile tissue.
This means that there is little blood supply to the tendon. So by warming up, it helps to raise the temperature of the tendon which in turn will improve its elasticity. By increasing the temperature of the body and the tendon the amount of blood getting to the tendon will also increase. This will help it recover faster from the exercise bout.
You can use 1 or all 4 of the above strategies at the same time, synergistically. They will work together for prevention and eliminate Achilles pains and injuries. If you need to get hooked up with the best sports medicine providers, Kho Health is the place to start. Kho Health is the best place find any sports medicine providers because you can search for skills. If you are not sure what is hurting or who you should see, Kho Health will help find the right provider for preventing Achilles tendon injuries.