The Achilles tendon is the thick band of tissue that joins the lower part of the calf (the muscles at the back of the lower leg) to the heel. These muscles play an essential role in pushing off the ground when walking and running but also in absorbing forces as you land. Sudden increases in the amount of exercise you are doing, especially where there are larger forces involved, for example, running further, running uphill, playing more tennis etc, can often result in the break down of the Achilles tendon. This results in Achilles Tendinopathy.
Ankle sprains are one of the most common lower limb injuries in sports. There is no such thing as a simple ankle sprain however only 55% of patients seek medical treatment for an ankle sprain. Many people underestimate the severity of the injury which may lead to persistent symptoms, recurrent ankle sprains and chronic ankle instability (CAI). CAI encompasses multiple insufficiencies that have occurred due to inadequate rehabilitation of the ankle. The ankle can become weak, feel unstable or stiff and cause difficulty balancing or walking/running on unstable surfaces. In sports is can begin to affect performance with less ankle stability and decreased ability to perform changes of direction or cutting manoeuvres. It can also affect confidence levels and certain movements or sports may be avoided due to a fear of re-injury.
In the past we have been taught many different ways to help pain caused by an injury, maybe ice, rest, pain killers, stretching, to name a few. But how the brain detects what is happening in the body and as a result spits out a “I am hurting” message is becoming more and more realised.
In a recent study into tendon injuries, it has been shown that you can change the part of the brain that feels sensation by doing different types of exercises.
The answer is YES! A massive study in Scandinavia looked at 120 handball teams, 1837 players aged 15 to 17. The aim was to see if the number of acute ankle and knee injuries could be reduced in the season by doing a good, sports specific, injury prevention warm up. Over the season the number of injuries in the group that didn’t do a good warm up was 81 versus the group that did do the specific warm up was only 48. As a parent, speak with the team coach and/or your child and ask what kind of warm up is being done. If you think it is not up to scratch, maybe send coaching staff the link to this article – no good coach wants to lose players over the year.
Many people experience a rolled ankle at some point in their lives. It can be the result of a sudden turn in sport, a bad step off the sidewalk or even just tripping over thin air.
With many endurance events coming up, it is important to keep an eye out for OVERUSE injuries!