Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Successsful Achilles Treatment

This past weekend I found the following posting at regarding an "eccentric stretching" treatment for Achilles Tendinosis (AT) which I’ve been successfully doing since. The described stretch has proven extremely helpful via providing immediate relief.

Excerpt from referenced posting:
For those suffering from AT (as I do), be advised that there has been a major development in treatment. (See disclaimers below.*)

In a recent issue of the American Journal of Sports Medicine (vol. 26 no. 3, pgs. 360 - 366), clinicians at the University Hospital of Northern Sweden reported their study of "Heavy-load eccentric calf muscle training for the treatment of chronic Achilles tendonitis." I urge you to get it via MedLine or from a medical library if you possibly can.

A series of 15 middle-aged recreational runners were treated with an amazingly simple method: stand on a step or ledge on the balls of your feet. Rise up on your GOOD leg, transfer your weight to the AFFECTED leg with ankle fully flexed downward (plantar flexion), and descend all the way down (to maximum dorsiflexion). Repeat 15 times (one set), and do 3 such sets twice a day. Also do these sets beginning with the knee of the affected leg partially bent, rather than extended (straight); this works the soleus muscle. Later on you can add weight, in the form of a backpack or weight machine on the shoulders, to increase the strengthening effect.

All 15 participants in this study had excellent results. I have had Achilles tendonitis for many years, worse this year since I increased my running mileage. But since I began doing these exercises I have had a marked reduction in pain and morning stiffness, and have even noted some increase in speed on training runs.

It's exciting to find good science -- a controlled, prospective study by reputable people -- that really works, and costs nothing!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Palos Heights Half-Marathon Race Report (and P.R.!)

This morning I ran the Palos Heights "Running for Kicks" Half Marathon. Despite being a simple out-and-back course it was very scenic with nature preserves for 90%+ of its length, was relatively flat but with gentle rolling hills. With my time of 1:39:14 I achieved a fantastic (+5 minute) P.R. - despite losing nearly 2-minutes with a critically needed restroom break in the 11th mile! All those extra training miles paid-off!

The weather this morning for the race was absolutely perfect - low 50s with minimal wind, clear skies and low humidity. The runners enthusiasm was evident as we cheered loudly for the beautifully sung national anthem, then quickly led-off westwards past the start line.

My first half of the run was at a blazing - and in retrospect too fast a pace at ~7:15. After partially fatiguing near the half-way point I slowed in the second half to ~7:35.

I attribute my unscheduled - and extremely urgently needed(!) - bathroom visit to my inappropriately experimenting prior to the run. I had drunk two 12-Oz. Starbucks coffees within 30-minutes of the race, where-as the most coffee I'd previously drunk so close to a race was half that amount. Additionally, 10-minutes prior to the run I foolishly consumed half a Cliff Shot Block packet of a flavor (Cola) which I'd never previously tried. I'm not sure which of these items were the cause of my intestinal travails, but this marks an important lesson (re-)learned - don't experiment before a race! Fortunately this happened in a race where the two-lost minutes were not critical to the outcome.

Finally, I happily noted afterwords that even without attempting to adjust for the bathroom break, per Dr. Jack Daniels' highly respected running formula for race predictions, this half-marathon result translates equivalently to a potential full marathon of ~3:26. Both Daniels' half-marathon and 10K formula predicts that with proper conditioning (which evidently I'd been lacking in my prior eleven marathon efforts!) I should be able to achieve a further 6-minute full marathon improvement. This will be great motivation for the Chicago then Houston marathon training (but in the next three weeks I'm first going to minimize my running miles so-as to allow my chronic right Achilles tendinitis an opportunity to fully heal.)