Eccentric Loading: An Achilles Tendinopathy Savior

Achilles Tendinopathy Treatment and Recovery with AlterG.

Greetings, disciples. Some of you may have stopped believing that I would follow through on my promise to bring you part two of our critically acclaimed Achilles tendinopathy post. But please, don’t stop believing (hold on to that feeling). That’s right, today, we are tackling the Achilles monster with a vengeance. So gather ‘round, and let’s outline our plan of attack against that dreaded tendinous foe.

If, like me, you are well-versed in the art of cognitive dissonance when it comes to training and injuries, you probably breezed straight through that key “prevention period” that I outlined in my first Achilles post. If it’s any consolation, Achilles injuries have a nasty tendency of offering little warning before becoming full-fledged inflammatory leviathans of pain and woe. What begins with some casual morning crepitus (the best part of waking up, is crepitus in your heel!), can quickly snowball into debilitating pain, tightness, and dysfunction that, if ignored and “pushed through” can lead to full rupture. Now, I don’t mean to be unnecessarily alarmist here, but might I direct your attention towards the man whose legendary rupture gave the Achilles its name:

According to legend, when Achilles was born, his mother, in an effort to make him immortal, took Achilles to the Styx river and dipped him. She held him by one heel. The area where her fingers held him remained dry. As the heel was not touched by the waters of the Styx, it was the one vulnerable place on Achilles.

Achilles became the hero of many battles during the Trojan War. Paris, Prince of the Trojans, shot an arrow in the heel of Achilles. Because the heel was the one spot untouched by immortality, Achilles died.

The mythology of Achilles not only gives us the term ‘Achilles heel,’ the tendon connecting the heel to the calf muscles is named the ‘Achilles tendon.’

I recognize that it is unlikely that you will be engaged in a fierce archery battle any time soon (but I don’t know your life), but the point still stands: don’t neglect that Achilles! For those of you who have suffered a similar, albeit, less deadly fate as our friend, Achilles, all is not lost. Surgical repairs of tendon ruptures have generally favorable outcomes, and, here at AlterG, we have outlined a detailed, professional protocol to help rehab professionals get their post-surgical Achilles patients “up and running” ASAPP (as soon as physically possible)

Alright, at the risk of burying the lead here, I think it’s high-time I reveal the magic-bullet in Achilles relief. It’s not some fancy laser or special pill or ancient healing voodoo chant (though, we certainly aren’t discounting the power of a good voodoo chant). No, it seems that the old adage of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” applies here to the number one tried and true method of Achilles mending: eccentric heel drops.

“Great!” You say, “I have an eccentric neighbor who constructs elaborate lawn sculptures using nothing but old Furbies and gorilla glue. Am I already on my way to better Achilles health?” Well, no… We do salute your neighbor’s artistic endeavors, but we are referring to a different, more physical sort of eccentricity. Rather than trying to paint a picture with my words, I would like to direct your attention to this short video by the experts over at the Sports Injury Clinic, showcasing the proper eccentric technique. Bonus, you can totally jam out to the awesome background music while you learn!

One quick note: this technique is for those suffering from midportion Achilles tendinopathy, meaning the pain is centered higher up, around the soleus (lower calf muscle). For those who are suffering from insertional Achilles tendinopathy (pain is located down low, in the heel itself), eccentric heel drops should be performed on flat ground, so as not to over-stress the insertion point.

Alright, are you feeling empowered to strike back against that Achilles now? Remember, in the quest for Achilles relief, you must be diligent (to your exercises) and vigilant (to any changing symptoms or sharp pains). And above all, please, I implore you, no matter the trials and tribulations that your tendinous journey may bring, whether you are a just a small-town girl with midpoint pain or perhaps even a city boy with insertional inflammation, don’t you ever stop believing. And, of course, (heel) drop it like it’s hot.