Isolation, and more recent freedom, has sent many of us in to overdrive socialising and exercising. As a result, we have noticed many more people are having issues with their bodies. We are seeing a consequences of this in the clinic (and in surgeries), presenting with mild to severe tendon issues. There are a few key reasons this is likely occurring.
1 - Deconditioning:
With gyms closed and overall motivation to exercise often suffering for many of us, the body has become comfortable with less exertion. As a result, many tissues in the body are less 'hardy' and are more easily injured.
2 - Food habits:
I am the first to admit that I have probably ate and drank a little more than I typically would indulge. Weight gain (central adiposity), increases our risk of tissue degeneration and failure.
3 - Doing too much too soon:
As a result of the above, many people are being too aggressive with their return to activity and not giving their body adequate opportunity to recondition. Already, there are a significant amount of surgeries relating to acute failure of tissue such as achilles rupture and ACL rupture. This is before a heap of sport even gets back in to full swing!
What simple things can people do?
Firstly, make sure you give your self permission to take your time in resuming activity. It would be so frustrating to have a significant reduction in activity through the pandemic, only to injure yourself and have to have even more time off now we can do more.
1 - Stretch!
It is important to stretch out your muscles and tendons to reduce the risk of injury. Here are 2 stretches which can be useful for your achilles (and plantar fascia as a result). I usually suggest 3 repetitions of holding the stretch for 10 seconds or so. There are a bunch of stretches you can do. You can discuss any stretches that may be best for your specific presentation with your health practitioner.
2 - Strengthen
When getting back in to activity, it is best to be gentle with strength work. Often we will suggest people do 'isometric' loading. You can find many options for this online, or discuss with your health care provider. The following video's are great reference points for achilles strengthening that we suggest regularly in the clinic.
Most difficult option - you can hold weights or wear a weighted backpack to make more difficult if you desire
3 - Set reasonable goals and timelines
Don't make your first run a marathon doing 5 minute km's. Start slowly and build up accordingly. Make sure you wear appropriate footwear if you are aiming to run, having a little extra support can take the edge off a big increase in load that we are exposing our bodies to. Find what works for you, there is no perfect recipe. Many people will do the 'couch to 5km' program when looking to get back in to running.
4 - Review with your healthcare professional sooner rather than later Understanding that seeing someone is time consuming, it can be the difference between no injury and a lasting problem which reduces your ability to do the activity you want! Don't be afraid to touch base with your podiatrist, physio, osteo, doctor... whoever you trust - for good advice to reduce your risk of injury.
We sincerely wish everyone all the best and share the excitement for this new found freedom. All of a sudden the air smells better, food tastes better and exercising all of a sudden looks very inviting! Enjoy it