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Improve Your Ergonomics and Improve your Posture

Posted on November 30th, 2017 by Andries Lodder

By Jennifer Steele

In our previous post we looked at the negative health implications poor posture can have. We spoke about various methods that can be used to help correct bad posture such as supportive braces and exercise that can help strengthen the musculature of the body to assist in improving posture. We also mentioned improving the ergonomics of your working environment to ensure you are placing your body in the best position throughout your working day.

So, what are ergonomics and how can we improve it in our daily lives?

Ergonomics is the study of people’s efficiency in their working environments. It looks at how furniture and equipment can be arranged so that people can do their work or activities in the most efficient way possible. Most individuals spend the majority of their day sitting at a desk behind a computer. However, for most, the main reason for their bad posture is the lay out of and the type of furniture they use.

How should our work space look?

Chair:

The chair you sit on should support your spinal curves, it should have an adjustable height so that you can make sure your feet are resting flat on the floor and your thighs are parallel to the floor. If the chair has arm rests your arms should rest,at roughly 90-120 degrees, on them with your shoulders in a relaxed position.

All key objects should be within arms reach so that you don’t have to keep stretching or standing up to reach things, this goes for telephone, keyboard and mouse, stapler, writing materials, printer and even things such as a water bottles should be places at arms length away.

Keyboard and Mouse and Monitor:

While typing or using the mouse for your computer you should keep your wrist straight and your forearms should be relaxed on the surface of the desk with the hands slightly lower down then the forearms if possible. While holding the mouse use as little pressure as possible. The top of the computer monitor should be at eye height or just below and it should roughly be an arms length away. 

Telephone:

If you frequently talk on the phone while typing or writing, place the phone on speaker or use a headset so that you don’t cradle the phone between your ear and your neck.

Desk:

There should be adequate room under the desk to fit your feet and thighs comfortably. The desk should be at a height so that your elbows rest at a comfortable angle of roughly 90 to 120 degrees. If the desk is to height raise the chair height and rest your feet on a footrest, if the desk is to low place books or wedges under the legs to raise it to the correct height.

Once your working environment is set up correctly make sure you are still aware of your posture and that you supplement this with corrective exercises and stretches to ensure your posture is improved in all aspects of your life. Also, always remember that even if your desk is perfectly set up you should always try to stand and walk around, stretch and get some fresh air at least once every hour.

For more information on how you can make your work space more efficient and posture friendly contact us here

How Bad Posture is Affecting more then just your Back

Posted on November 22nd, 2017 by Andries Lodder

By Jennifer Steele

We have all been told time and time again to stand up or sit up straight. Having good posture makes us look poised, confident, healthy and professional but there are many health reasons beyond this that we need to consider when we think of good posture. In our 21st century lives we spend the majority of our days sitting at desks, in cars or looking down at our phone screens. None of these positions promote good posture as it is in these positions that we slouch the most.

When we have good posture, we reinforce the alignment of the spine, neck and head. While slouching forces the head forward, the shoulders round and the back curves. The muscles in the body are forced to work overtime, some constantly being placed in shortened positions causing them to become tighter and tighter, while others are being lengthened and end up getting weaker and weaker. Constant bad posture trains the body to function incorrectly and this then transfers into all aspects of our lives.

Bad posture can lead to problems all over the body not only in the back but problems with muscle functioning, digestion, poor circulation as well as changes in mood and stress levels. Here are some negative side effects that bad posture can lead to

Pain and Soreness:

Poor posture puts excessive stress and pressure on the spine and neck as it is not in its optimal position. Due to the excess stress put on the bones and ligaments, structural changes, such as disk degeneration, can occur while the muscles can go into spasm due to the increase strain put on them.

Poor Circulation:

Sitting with your legs crossed or your shoulders slouching forward can put excess pressure on veins, arteries and lymphatic vessels which can impact the circulation to and from specific areas. Fluids can build up where they shouldn’t and cause oedema pain and other problems.

Increased fatigue:

When you have bad posture, the body has to work harder to try and keep upright and in a normal position, the body is supposed to be upright and have good posture and, so it fights all the time to be in this position. This leads to fatigue quicker than normal.

Decreased Motivation and increased stress levels:

Sitting slumped and slouched over can have a direct effect on your productivity, motivation and stress levels. A study released in Health Psychology found a direct correlation between individuals with bad posture and poor work ethic and low self-esteem.

So how can you improve your posture and prevent these negative effects:

First things first check the ergonomics of your working environment- look out for our next post on how you can optimize your desk and working environment using proper ergonomics. There are supportive braces that you can wear that can help you improve your posture, but this generally isn’t a cure and as soon as the brace is off, you relax your return to your old habits. The best and most effective long-term solution is to do corrective exercises.

Below are 2 simple exercises you can try that can help correct your posture:

Seated Rows with Thera Band:

  • Sitting on the floor with your leg straight out if front of you.
  • Wrap the Thera band around your feet and hold each end in your hands.
  • Then keeping the elbows bend and tucked in next to your body, pull and row the Thera band backwards.
  • Move slowly back to the starting position making sure to control the movement throughout.
  • Repeat for 10 reps and 3 sets.

The Doorway Stretch to loosen tight Pec and chest muscles:

  • Standing in a doorway, lift your arm so it’s parallel to the floor and bend at the elbow so your fingers point toward the ceiling.
  • Place the hand on the door frame
  • Slowly lean into your raised arm and push against the door frame for 10-20 seconds.
  • Repeat the stretch 2-3 times

For more information give us a call and we can do a full postural assessment on you and give you specific exercises to strengthen and stretch your over worked muscles.

HIIT- Quick, Easy and Convinient

Posted on October 25th, 2017 by Andries Lodder

 

By Jennifer Steele

We all want to be fit, healthy and look good. However, one of most common reasons people give for not being healthy is lack of time. They say they don’t’ have time to exercise, don’t have time to prep and cook healthy meals and don’t have the time to take a few minutes of time for themselves each day and destress. This well may be the case but what most people don’t know is that they don’t need to spend hours in the gym or the kitchen. There are many solutions out there for including healthy habits into a busy schedule and one of them is High Intensity Interval Training.

High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT is a training technique with two parts. The first is a short period of 100% all-out effort followed by a rest period that is either low intensity active recovery or complete rest. This type of training gets your heart rate up and keeps it up, there is an increase in the bodies oxygen demands. The body can’t keep up with this demand and so by the end of the workout there is an oxygen deficit and so the body asks for more oxygen during recovery post workout. This after burn effect is known as Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen consumption (EPOC) and it is the primary reason why you burn more calories and fat after high intense training session then with steady state long sessions.

Other benefits of HIIT sessions:

  • Increased metabolic rate
    • Due to the increase in oxygen demand and the EPOC that follows High Intense Interval Sessions there is an increase in metabolism and fat burning for up to 48 hours after exercise. This means that even after you leave the gym you are still burning fat!!
  • Quick and convenient
    • HIIT sessions can be done in 30 minutes or less and so there is no more excuses about not having enough time.
  • No equipment necessary
    • These sessions are not only quick and convenient, but they can be done anywhere as they need no equipment, in a bedroom, lounge, hotel room or even garden there really is no reason for not breaking a quick sweat.

Here is a basic example of a HIIT sessions:

  • 3- 4 Rounds of:
  • 1 minute = Squats
  • 1 minute = Jumping Jacks
  • 1 minute = Push Ups
  • 1 minute = Mountain Climbers
  • 1 minute = Sit ups
  • 1 minute = Burpees
  • 1 minute = Step ups
  • 2 minutes = Rest

27- 36 Minutes in total, no equipment needed.

So next time you pressed for time and need to squeeze in your recommended 30 minutes of exercise, why not give a HIIT session a go!

For more information contact us.

 

 

Diabetes Mellitus

Posted on September 28th, 2017 by Andries Lodder

 

By Jennifer Steele

Diabetes Mellitus is a chronic lifelong condition that affects the bodies ability to use and produce insulin, thus affecting its ability to use and process the sugars we eat. There are 3 types of diabetes, Type 1, Type 2,  and Gestational Diabetes. Even though there are these different types all of them have one major thing in common.

In people without diabetes the body breaks down the sugars and carbohydrates that we eat into a substance called glucose. All the cells of the body then are able to use this glucose as their fuel. However, in order for the glucose to enter the cells and be used as fuel a hormone called insulin is required.

This is where diabetes comes in. In a diabetic, the body either does not produce insulin, it can’t use the insulin it does produce or combination of both. Since the body’s cells are unable to take up the glucose, it starts to build up in the blood stream. This can be dangerous as high blood glucose levels can damage the small blood vessels of the kidneys, the eyes, heart and nervous system.

Here is a short overview of each type of diabetes:

Type 1 Diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease caused by the body attacking its own pancreas with antibodies. Due to this the insulin producing cells of the pancreas are unable to produce insulin at all. Individuals with type 1 diabetes have to take insulin in the form of an injection, a pen or an insulin pump.

Type 2 Diabetes:

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and can sometimes be considered a milder form of diabetes. Even with that being said it can still have major health implications and can be life threatening if not treated properly. In type 2 diabetics the body still produces insulin. However, it either produces too little or the body’s cells have become resistant to it and they no longer respond to it and so they no longer are able to absorb or take up the insulin that is available. Type 2 obesity predominantly affects obese individuals and is usually due to insulin resistance. There is no cure for type 2 diabetes but it can be managed with nutrition, exercise and weight management interventions. In some severe cases diabetes medication is also necessary to manage the condition.

Gestational Diabetes:

Gestational diabetes is triggered during pregnancy and often leads to the mother becoming insulin resistance. It is often diagnosed during the second and third trimester and can be dangerous as the high blood sugar levels of the mother travel through the placenta to the baby and can affect the baby’s growth and development.

So how does exercise come into play?

Exercise is an essential component of treating and caring for diabetes. When exercise is included in the treatment of diabetes numerous benefits will occur:

  • Improvement in blood glucose control, predominantly in individuals with type 2 diabetes.
  • Improved insulin sensitivity and lower medication requirements.
  • Reduction in body fat and weight loss, which helps increase insulin sensitivity.
  • Cardiovascular benefits and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

Recommendations for exercise programming

All exercise programs for individuals with diabetes should be individualized based on the individual’s medication schedule, presence of any diabetes complications, their own goals and their personal preferences. Both cardio and strength exercises should be included in the program to develop and maintain the individual’s cardio respiratory fitness, body composition and muscular strength and endurance.

Individuals with diabetes should follow the following precautions when exercising:
  • During their exercise sessions, a carbohydrate food source should be readily available.
  • They should consume adequate fluids before, during and after exercise.
  • They should practice good foot care by wearing proper shoes, cotton socks and inspecting their feet on a regular basis especially after exercise.
  • They should always carry medical identification.

If you suffer from Diabetes or any other chronic disease we recommend you seek medical advise before beginning an exercise program. 

 

The Power is in the Plate

Posted on September 4th, 2017 by Andries Lodder

There’s been a craze in the fitness world in the last decade- Power Plate. This is exercise equipment in the form of a vibrating platform. There is a vibrating base which may vibrate upwards and downwards, close to 1 to 2 millimetres, 25 to 50 times per second.

Although Power Plate is already being used by many women to lose weight and to firm up, it is also very efficient for seniors wanting to stay fit. It’s principle of acceleration, giving fast muscular contractions, allows active seniors to keep fit and has health benefits as people advance in age.

Power Plate is a very good way of training efficiently but softly, and this because of the 2 main advantages:

  • Firstly, the absence of weight:
    • The fact that you work out without weight on the Power Plate reduces the risk of getting hurt.
  • Secondly, The Power Plate gives you the latitude to work on a static, semi static or sitting manner, thus easily adapting to the level of stress
    • For example, the more you bend in a squat the more you work.

Training on Power Plate enables the seniors to continue maintaining their bodies and reinforcing their muscular toning, all these at their own pace. Power Plate also allows for short and soft sessions such as only doing stretches, resulting in the improvement of flexibility and the moves’ amplitude.

Say Goodbye to age related health problems:

Osteoporosis is a disease where the bones are at risk of breaking easily due to increased bone weakness. Bone fragility affects 30% of the women 65 years old and more. It is also responsible for 145 000 fractures per year. High impact sports such as jogging or tennis help to fight against the loss of bone density. However, there is a snag. These activities are sometimes difficult to practice, particularly for the elderly. Enter the Power Plate. Several studies (particularly the one Steven Boonen of the University of Leuven, Belgium) proved that the vibrations of the Power Plate subsequently lead to a noticeable increase in bone mineral density. Regular physical activity on the Power Plate can be useful for the prevention of Osteoporosis.

Prevent Falls:

A number of physiotherapists, led by Doctor Michel Cabrol, an occupational therapist and sport doctor, drafted an experimental project, proposing to the residents of a retirement home in Cannes, these exercise programmes on the Power Plate. Revelations according the Doctor Cabrol were such that, the plate was particularly useful inn “putting back at work’, the muscular work, in a static manner, but with the patient not exerting themselves.

The Power Plate enables seniors to recuperate some muscular strength in the lower limbs. The proprioceptive centres located in the soles of the feet also get stimulated in the process. These centres, work as receptors, transmitting the information to the brain, which progressively, will reprogram on its ‘hard drive’, the balance notion.  By doing so, the Power Plate can contribute to freeing the elderly from the infernal ring imprisoning them: prolonged confinement to bed, melting of the muscular mass, decrease in bone density, not to mention fall fear of standing again and all these finally leading to sedentariness and immobility.

Pain Relief:

A static session on the Power Plate can benefit seniors who are suffering from backache. The sit on the Power Plate on low intensity programming sessions of thirty seconds alternating with rest times of the same length. The sessions can also be done while one is standing but immobile. The vibrations force a reaction out of the muscles, leading to relaxation of the body and a feeling of well-being. At the end of the sessions the feeling is always a positive. Doctor Michel observed in his patients, a real well-being and a relief following the sessions on the Power Plate.

Training programmes adapted to seniors:

Following observations of the beneficial effects on the seniors, the Power Plate teams have developed adapted programmes. They have an umbrella theme know as FEEL BETTER. These programmes are able to yield the following interesting results:

  • Flexibility:
    • A training session aiming to improve the body’s flexibility.
  • Stability 1 and 2:
    • Training sessions aiming to improve stability in the bottom of the body as well as body coordination.
  • Rejuvenation:
    • A session specifically geared towards destressing body and mind.
  • Solid Bones:
    • A programme focused on strength and coordination to reinforce the bone structure.
  • Active Ageing:
    • A functional preparation for the 65 years old and more with the objectives of improving mobility, balance and facilitating the smooth running in the journey of their daily lives.

Last but definitely not least:

Although moderate physical activity such as brisk walking is safe for most people, the importance of talking to your doctor first cannot be emphasised enough. Whatever you do, talk to your doctor before you start an exercise programme.

Original Article by:

Caroline Malokotsa, The Power is in the Plate, Senior Planet August 2017/Issue 3, Page 18-20

Exercising during pregnancy

Posted on August 25th, 2017 by Andries Lodder

By Jennifer Steele

Pregnancy is a very unique time in any women’s life and during this time a woman experiences many changes. Physiological, anatomical and, emotional changes all present themselves and most of the time normal behaviours and routines end up changing. However, even with all these changes occurring, it is important to remember that habits adopted during pregnancy can affect a woman for the rest of her life. Along with all these changes, during this time women also have thousands of questions running through their heads. Is it normal to feel like this, can I still eat this, should I lie like this, and one of the most frequent questions; can I still exercise?

The short answer to this question is, yes. Yes, you can still exercise and in fact exercise is as important during pregnancy as it is when you are not pregnant.

Here is how you can go about incorporating exercise into your pregnancy.

The first thing to do is check with your health care provider:

If you exercised regularly before getting pregnant and you have no complications with your pregnancy you should be able to carry on working out as you had done before with very few modifications. If you did not work out before then you should start with beginner’s exercises and possibly seek the assistance of a health and fitness professional who can help guide you on where to start and what exercises you should and shouldn’t do. It is important to check with a health care provider before exercising because if there are any complications with your pregnancy exercise could both you and your baby at risk.   

Once you have been cleared to exercise you can then use these guidelines to help you plan your exercise sessions:

Type of exercise:

Focus should be placed on exercises that improve and maintain your cardiovascular and musculoskeletal fitness levels. Therefore, both aerobic exercises such as walking, jogging, swimming and cycling as well as resistance exercises with light weights or bands should be included in the exercise program.

When pregnant you should avoid doing exercises that involve you lying for any prolonged period of time on your back. 

Intensity:

This is one of the harder variables of exercise prescription to advise pregnant women on. To prescribe intensity to non-pregnant women a percentage of their maximum heart rate is usually used. However, during pregnancy a women’s heart rate response to exercise is often erratic and unreliable. For this reason, rate of perceived exertion is used when describing the desired level of intensity. For moderate intensity exercise during pregnancy your rate of perceived exertion should be between 12-14, which is considered somewhat hard. As the pregnancy progresses most women tend to voluntarily decrease the intensity of their workouts.

 

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Duration of Exercise:

It is advised that pregnant women exercise from anywhere between 30-60 minutes.

It is just important to be aware of the temperature that you are exercising in, as your body’s ability to thermoregulate is jeopardize by the pregnancy. You should avoid exercising for prolonged periods in hot environments. You should also make sure you have adequate hydration as well as wear cool loose clothing.

Frequency:

It is recommended that you do an accumulation of at least 30 minutes of light to moderate intensity exercise every day.

Even though pregnancy is associated with numerous anatomical and physiological changes, there are very few instances that will prevent otherwise healthy, pregnant women from following the same recommendations.

For more information on how to exercise during pregnancy you can speak to your doctor or a health care professional such as a Biokineticist who will be able to guide you through appropriate exercises that are safe and that will best prepare you body for your pregnancy, labour and post partum recovery. 

In our next post we will look at the benefits of exercising during pregnancy. 

The Benefits of Strength Training for Children and Adolescence

Posted on August 10th, 2017 by Andries Lodder

By Jennifer Steele

In today’s society like many adults, kids and teenagers are becoming more and more inactive. The urge to sit and watch hours of television, play computer or tv games, sit on their phones or tablets is becoming increasingly high and so more and more kids are starting to experience the same problems associated with inactivity that adults do. This being said, it is not the case for all kids. One the other end of the scale there are kids and teens that are taking part in every sport offered to them. They are trying to balance all the physical demands that are placed on them by all the sports and quiet often their bodies cannot handle it and they end up injured. More often than not the pain or injury is because their body doesn’t have the necessary strength to cope with all the demands.

The question is then what can be done to help kids on both ends of the scale?

Strength training:

The topic of strength and weight training for kids and adolescence has been one of controversy for many years. Many have said that by lifting weights at a young age children’s growth will be stunted due to damage to their growth plates or they will get injured. This in fact could not be further from the truth. When done correctly, using the correct technique and following the correct program guidelines, a strength and conditioning program for kids and teens can end up assisting in their overall growth and physical development rather than hindering it. A child participating in a strength and conditioning program that is well structured and has the necessary supervision is at not greater risk of injury then a child playing supervised rugby.

What are the Benefits of strength training for children and teens:

 

There are numerous benefits of strength training in kids and teens such as:

  • Improved overall body strength
  • Improved coordination, balance, agility and athletic performance
  • Decreased risk of obesity and other chronic diseases associated with inactivity
  • Decrease risk of sporting injuries due to over use or lack of strength
  • Improved self confidence
  • Decreased risk of taking part in risky behaviours such as drinking alcohol, taking drugs or smoking
  • Decreased risk of developing osteoporosis

These benefits definitely are a great reason for kids to include strength training into their daily activity. However, a child’s strength and conditioning program should not resemble an adults. Firstly, it should be tailored to the individual age of the child, and most importantly focus should be placed on performing exercises correctly rather than on adding weight and increasing resistance. The few rare cases of stunted growth and damage to growth plates have occurred when equipment was misused, to heavy weights were lifted with incorrect form and technique or there was no supervision during the strength training session.

Guidelines:

Here are some guidelines based as to what should be focused on with each age group:

  • Ages 6-10
    • Focus on overall fitness and development of all motor and sports related skills.
    • Emphasize placed on fun
    • Avoid highly structured and high intensity training
  • Ages 11-14
    • Still focus on overall fitness and development of all motor and sports related skills
    • Some resistance training and sport-specific training may be added. When conducting strengthening exercises, make sure you show the athletes how it will help them in their sport.
    • For all strength exercises emphasis should be placed on doing the exercise with the correct technique and form
    • Begin all exercises using body weight before adding resistance
  • Ages 15-18
    • Now is the time to begin sport-specific training.
    • A period of warming-up, stretching, and cooling-down are a must in any type of training, including strength training.
    • For all strength exercises emphasis should still be placed on doing the exercise with the correct technique and form
    • As individuals get stronger resistance and weights can be increased slowly

Before a child begins a strength and conditioning program they need to learn the correct technique for all exercises they are going to be performing. Parents should also check that there is adequate supervision and that the program their child will be taking part in is suitable for their age and physical development level.

So let’s encourage kids to get out the house, off their phones and to start moving their bodies as much as possible.

Exercising with Correct Form

Posted on July 31st, 2017 by Andries Lodder


By Jennifer Steele

You exercise regularly and are keeping fit and healthy, and yet you are still getting injured. So often this is the case, not only with elite athletes but also with individuals who are just exercising because they enjoy it. Most of the time the reason behind all these injuries are incorrect form.

Performing an exercise with correct form means that the joints, muscles and tendons within the body during an exercise are correctly aligned and not put under excessive amounts of pressure. Ensuring proper form not only helps prevent injury to the body but it also ensures that the correct muscles are targeted during each exercise. If for instance you are doing a bicep curl, which is intended to work the biceps in the upper arm, and you are swaying and moving the upper body to help you lift the weight then chances are you are working far more than just the biceps. In doing this you are not getting the full benefit of the intended exercise and you could be straining other muscles and joints.

One of the primary reason for incorrect form or technique is due to lifting weights that are too heavy. When the weight is to heavy the first thing to go is form and you start using other parts of the body to compensate for the heavy weight. In doing this the joints of the body move out of alignment, pressure is places on ligaments and tendons, other muscles start contracting and taking strain. Another factor effected by lifting weights that are too heavy is the range of motion. There is little point in performing an exercise—such as a Squat—if you are not able to successfully go through the full range of motion, or if you need to compensate for a weakness. Rather you should work with less weight, fully developing your muscles through the prescribed range of motion and using proper technique to produce the necessary movements. Not only will this help prevent injuries but it will also greatly improve your strength.

Below let’s look at the correct form for a fundamental functional exercises:

The squat:

  • Look straight ahead (During the squat you should not drop the head and look down or lift the head and look up)
  • Chest out
  • Shoulders level
  • Hand can be placed behind the head or straight up above the head, or out in front of you parallel to the floor
  • Back slightly arched or neutral (at no time during a squat should your lower back round)
  • Feet should be slightly wider then hip width apart
  • Toes pointed slightly outwards
  • Weight should be on the heels or the feet
  • As you begin to bend your knees push your hips and bum back
  • Your knees should stay in line with your toes and not fall in at any time when doing the squat.

  • The knees should also not push forward and go over the toes.
  • Go through a full range of motion with bum and thighs going below parallel to the floor.

Tips to help correct squat form:

  • One of the best ways to correct squatting form is to do wall facing squats. With the toes touching the wall and hand above the head. Keep the knees out and squat down as low as possible. By doing the squat this way the wall prevents your knees going over your toes and it helps you to engage and activate the glutes correctly.

  • If you find you can’t keep your knees out and over your toes it can be useful to add a thera-band around the knees to assist in activating the necessary muscles.

So are you squatting correctly?

Take a look at how you are performing all exercises during your workouts as incorrect form could lead to injury and if you are unsure about what the correct form is, ask a fitness professional to assist you.

Achilles Tendinopathy

Posted on July 26th, 2017 by Andries Lodder

By Jennifer Steele

The Achilles tendon attaches the calf muscles to the heel bone and is responsible for raising the heel off the floor, or calf raising. The tendon is used both in our everyday lives when walking, running, or climbing stairs, as well as during most of sports and exercise activities.

We have all heard of people’s weaknesses or vulnerabilities being deemed their ‘Achilles heel’. This reference was brought about because in so many athletes and individuals it is their Achilles that is their weak link. When this tendon is overused and inflamed it can cause such severe pain and disability that it can bring even the strongest people to a standstill.  

When the tendon is over worked and intense repetitive loads are placed on it, it can become damaged which leads to the pain associated with Achilles Tendinopathy. After each loading or training session, the tendon suffers from tiny microtrauma injuries. In a normal tendon, these microtraumas will heal and the next time it is exposed to loading it will be stronger and able to withstand greater loads. However, in the case of Achilles Tendinopathy the tendon does not heal completely between sessions and so over time the damage builds up and this leads to a degenerative tendon and tendinopathy.

Individuals that are at a higher risk of developing Achilles Tendinopathy are:

  • exercising without warming up
  • suddenly increase their physical activity intensity without proper progression
  • taking part in sporting activities that require rapid changes in direction
  • wearing old or ill-fitting shoes
  • older individuals individuals with bony heel spurs.

Incorrect running or jumping technique can also predisposed athletes to the condition, as can certain chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes. There have also been reports of certain antibiotics leading to tendon inflammation and predisposing individuals to tendon ruptures, therefore it is best to check the side effects of all medications before exercising while taking them.

The main symptom of Achilles Tendinopathy is pain at the back of the heel area during walking, running or other physical loading of the tendon. The area may become swollen, red and warm to the tough. The pain is often worse first thing in the morning with the tendon feeling stiff and tight, it is also always worse during activity, exercise or sports that place increased loads on the tendon.

The immediate treatment for Achilles Tendinopathy is treatment of the symptoms using rest and ice. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can also be taken to help relieve the pain. Most importantly the individual will need to modify their physical activity and the exercise routine in order to give the tendon sufficient rest, as well as include specific rehabilitation exercises for the tendon.

Before beginning rehabilitation exercises a health care professional such as a Biokineticist or Physiotherapist should be consulted. Generally, the program they will prescribe should include light stretching of the muscles of the lower limb as well as eccentric heel drops that will strengthen and improve the tendons ability to absorb loads placed on it.

Achilles Tendinopathy is not the same as an Achilles Tendon rupture. A rupture is rather an actual tear of the tendon and can be a far more severe injury depending on the severity of the tear. A rupture can either be complete or incomplete and often require surgery as treatment. Achilles Tendinopathy does not necessarily predispose an individual to an Achilles Tendon rupture. However, it can increase the chances of a rupture occurring. It is therefore necessary to follow the correct treatment and rehabilitation protocols to minimize risks of further injury and re occurrence.

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