This Part 4 of a multi-part series. Part 1 talked about the injury cycle and the 4 stages of diagnosing your injury. Part 2 explained why regular strength training does not work, and why you need to do heavy load eccentric contractions. Part 2 video showed the Heel Drop exercise. Part 3 video showed the Eccentric Squat and Reach.
Many things have changed for the Master’s athlete, mostly:
- Weight gain since College
- Less flexible
- Aging muscles and tendon less elastic
Kip Janvrin once said the toughest event for the decathlon he had to deal with at age 40 was the High Jump. (the lower high hurdles, 39” vs. 42” is a welcome surprise!) Somehow, by age 40, he lost his “pop”. That says a lot about eccentric contractions. It’s easier to do absolute strength training in the weight room than doing plyometrics at age 40 or 50.
This is why I prescribed the heel drop and eccentric squat & reach exercises which I prefer to do after a track or Tempo workout. Some prefer to do it as part of the warm up, especially on the Tempo days.
The Achilles all about stabilizing the ankle joint. It’s all the same connective tissue system.
That being said, there are still some (more) stabilization exercises that you can add to your Achilles routine to strengthen them. These can be performed outside your training session, like in the AM on a PM track session. They are very mild, and as long as you do stretching in between sets, you are good to go. You can even do these exercises while watching TV.
These exercises will stabilize and strengthen the muscles around the Achilles. It will even work your core, so that’s a double bonus. You will need one, some or all of the following:
. . .
Any of the products above are easy to use, and you can find them in your local gym. Start with just balancing for up to 1 or 2 minutes with 2 feet. Once you can accomplish that, then you can try one foot. To make it tougher, grab a tennis racquet with both hands and swing it side to side (on one foot). For even a tougher workout, get a partner and have them throw you a small medicine ball side to side (on one foot).
You can even do some of the Eccentric Squat and Reach exercises with the above products (except the wobble board)
Hiking: The Last Resort
When all else fails, just take a break from training and go hiking! The stretching, twisting and strengthening of each step is great rehab for your Achilles. And it’s a good workout too!
I used to live in Vancouver BC and the Grouse Grind was a popular choice. It took me about an hour. Anything over 400 meters, I usually take a taxi. Just bring a fresh t-shirt, have a drink on top of the mountain, and take the tram down. Rinse and repeat.