In this month’s issue, Mike O’Hara, PT provides information on Achilles tendinopathy with exercises that will help prevent this painful condition. Watch the video for the exercises by following the link in the article “Achilles Recovery”. Mike also demonstrates and describes the combination of turkish get ups and waiters walks–paired exercises that can help you train efficiently. Video for this article can also be seen on our youtube channel; just follow the links in the article.
Heel Drops Keep You in the Game and Out of the Therapy Clinic
Irritation of the Achilles tendon is one of the more common and debilitating injuries in the recreational runner population. It is theorized that cellular changes in the Achilles tendon happen because the level of tendon loading exceeds the body’s capacity to create appropriate cellular repairs. Achilles tendinopathy is such a common and difficult problem that I recommend all recreational runners perform heel drops, twice a week, as part of an injury prevention program.
A Swedish study from 1998 kicked physical therapy into a frenzy of heel drops. This exercise is used to enhance the Achilles tendon’s tolerance of loading. The initial studies recommended three sets of thirty repetitions, performed three times a day. Experience in the clinic and gym has demonstrated that most people do better with less volume.
To perform a heel drop simply stand with the ball of your foot on a step and the heel off the step. Use both feet to rise up on the toes with heels elevated as far as possible. Remove one foot and then lower the body down slowly for a count of five. The heel should end up well below the top of the step. Use both feet to rise back up on the toes and repeat. Start with five repetitions with the knee straight and the same number with the knee slightly bent, for a total of ten heel drops. If you are unable to lower slowly, you must perform this drill with the foot flat on the floor and progress to the full heel drop as you become stronger. Reduce the repetitions if your Achilles tendon becomes more symptomatic. If all goes well, add a repetition every session until you reach twenty repetitions, ten with the knee straight and ten with a bent knee.
Perform heel drops twice a week as part of your strength training/injury prevention program. If you are a recreational runner and you do not perform a strength training/injury prevention program, my number at Fenton Physical Therapy is 810-750-1996.
You can view video demonstration of heel drops by clicking here.
-Michael O’Hara, P.T., O.C.S., C.S.C.S.