Can You Run With Achilles Tendonitis?

Let’s get straight to the point: Can you run with Achilles tendonitis? The answer, in short, is yes. The real question is, should you run with Achilles tendonitis? That answer depends on the severity of your case, how you workout, and your objectives for managing (and eventually) overcoming this nagging condition.

What is Achilles Tendonitis?
Achilles tendonitis is a chronic inflammation of the tendon connecting the heel to the calf muscles. Because Achilles tendonitis is typically caused by repetition and overuse, running with Achilles tendonitis tends to make the problem worse, and can increase the chance of tears or tendon ruptures.

Common Symptoms of Achilles Tendonitis
Achilles tendonitis is characterized by mild to medium pain in the heel, the Achilles, and the back of the leg. Sufferers might notice these symptoms after running or walking. Soreness and stiffness the morning after running, walking, and other athletic activities are also quite common to Achilles tendonitis sufferers.

Tips for Healing Achilles Tendonitis
The reason that healing your Achilles tendonitis is so challenging is because the Achilles is engaged in nearly all walking and running motions. To begin the healing process and banish this nagging injury once and for all, here are a few tips:

  • Take a break: A hard pill to swallow, especially for regular runners. But taking an extended rest (at least from running) can give your damaged Achilles time to heal and helps prevent more serious injuries that could take you away from running far longer.
  • Strengthen the surrounding muscles: Weaknesses in surrounding muscles, namely the calves, as well as limited range of motion, can contribute to Achilles damage.
  • Stretch: It is so easy to forget to stretch before and after running. But maintaining flexibility and range of motion can help you prevent and recover from tendon injuries.
  • Check your footwear: What you wear on your feet can contribute or prevent injury. Stiffness in your shoe, poor fit, and shoes not designed to accommodate your particular running gait can lead to tendonitis when used over time.
  • Audit your gait: On that note, it’s important to understand your gait in order to correct gait imbalances. Hip misalignments, for example, or problems with pronation are common contributors to Achilles tendonitis and other injuries.

Unfortunately, there is no cure all for Achilles tendonitis. The condition is caused by damage to the tendon, and healing damaged tendons requires sustained healing time and acute attention. Understanding the injury and incorporating the tips above into the healing plan is a good place to start. If symptoms don’t improve, seek out a physical therapist to help you with your recovery.

How to Adapt Your Fitness Routine For the Later Years

We’ve said it before, and we’ll keep on saying it: regular exercise unlocks immense benefits for all age groups. For seniors, exercise is the ticket to a happier, healthier retirement. Benefits include:

  • Better sleep
  • Improved mental health
  • Weight maintenance or loss
  • Looking and feel younger

Yet with the passing years comes the need to adapt exercise routines. With each decade, the body changes, and what used to be easy-breezy is now more challenging. This doesn’t mean people can’t continue exercising as they age. It just means they need to refine their approach.

Go See the Physician
Regular readers of the AlterG blog will recognize this common refrain: when introducing exercise into one’s life, or drastically changing one’s routine, it’s important to talk to the doctor first. That goes for people of all ages.

This doesn’t have to be complicated, though: an annual physical evaluation with a primary care physician is the right time to evaluate one’s suitability for regular exercise and any additional precautions they need to take.

RELATED: 5 Workouts for People With Fall Risk

Start Simple and Progress Incrementally
Our age and physical condition are no match for the inner picture we have of ourselves (I’ll be 25 forever!). While relatable, attempting the same activities, with the same intensity, that we could earlier in life lead to injury.

Instead, set an objective to do one simple exercise, such as walking, toe touches, or stretching every day, or every other day, for two weeks. After two weeks, you’ll have developed the habit of exercise on which you can build toward a more advanced senior exercise routine.

RELATED: Train Seniors Using Unweighting

Establish Baseline Flexibility and Balance
For the first couple of weeks, make balance, core strength, and flexibility the areas of focus. This will help establish a baseline that will enable comfortable, safe, and effective exercise later on.

Modify Your Existing Routine
Don’t rule out a return to glory just yet! Many of the exercises and routines you used to do can be modified. Lifting weights, stretching, aerobics, yoga, Tai Chi—all of these can be done while sitting in a chair. Many seniors take to the pool for aerobic routines that are just as challenging, but not as hard on the body.

Work With a Physical Therapist
The question is, do seniors need a physical therapist? In some cases, physical disability, injury, fall risk, and other factors common among seniors necessitate work with a physical therapist. For seniors, working with a physical therapist can offer a number of advantages:

  • Guided exercises that limit fall risk
  • Identify and work on weaknesses or deficiencies
  • Rehabilitate and recover from injury
  • Go slow under the supervision of a professional

The supervision of a professional can be very beneficial. Physical therapists have tools and techniques at their disposal that are designed to help people get the most out of their workouts—regardless of age, condition, injury status—in sensible, safe increments.

LEARN MORE: Anti-Gravity Treadmill for Seniors

5 Creative Ways to Workout as a Family

Happy Mother’s Day! Having children changes everything, doesn’t it? As much as parents want to believe they’ll be able to live the same life after kids—oh, how we hold on tight to that belief—it all changes when that first padawan arrives.

One of the first things to go is the exercise routine. During the first couple of years of parenthood, who really has time to go for a jog or hit the gym when there are young children to take care of? Fair enough. Even though it might not be the same as it was, there are still ways to squeeze in exercise. It just takes a little bit of group mentality.

5 Creative Ways to Exercise as a Family
The trick is to thread exercise into your existing schedule—to sneak exercise into the family activities you already do with your family. And what better time to exercise as a family than Mother’s Day? (Okay, maybe start with these tips the day after Mother’s Day so mom can get her proper kicks.)

1. Go for a Walk
Walking is the new running! At least for parents, it is. Walking is great for papa bear, mama bear, the babies, even grandma and grandpa. Getting out and in the sunshine can not only provide exercise to people of all ages, but can also provide the psychological break that many parents often need. Make walks a game by singing, marching, and gamifying certain milestones (times around the block, steps, etc.).

2. Make Cleanup Time a Dance Party
It’s hard to convince kids to clean up. Heck, it’s hard to convince ourselves to cleanup—unless you make it fun. And what better calorie-burner is there than dancing? It’s fun, engaging, and it begs for your favorite soundtrack. Got vinyl around or a favorite playlist? Throw them on and set an example by dancing through the entire cleanup. Dancing is contagious, you’ll see. The kids will follow and you’ll all be burning calorie as you go.

3. Get Moving During Commercial Breaks
Let’s face it: most families spend a lot of time watching television together. Kids shows are educational, entertaining, and they help plug kids in so that parents can tune out a while (seriously, how many times have you seen Baby Shark and Frozen?). During breaks and commercials, get the kids up and moving by doing jumping jacks, running in place, or even burpees. If the kids are too young, do the exercises yourself. Eventually, they’ll come around (and maybe your spouse will, too).

4. Put the Children to Work
Admit it: when you found out you were having kids, part of you was excited to hand off chores and housework. Mowing the lawn. Raking leaves. Pulling weeds and cleaning gutters. A couple of hours spent on any of these chores is no small physical ask. You’ll be sweating and sore in no time. Get the kids involved and Sunday chores will quickly become the Sunday family workout.

5. Take the Dog for a Walk
Kids. Love. Dogs. Don’t we all? And if you have one in your family, you have an always-on, never-sleeping opportunity for exercise. When’s the last time your dog refused to go for a walk? Head out to the nearest park, prairie reserve, or beach and go for a long one. Get the kids involved or, if they’re old enough, charge them with handling dog walking all on their own. The Kennel Club recommends two fifteen-to-twenty-minute walks a day. That’s two opportunities to get up, get moving, and do something beneficial to the health of both canine and child members of the family.

Keep It Interesting, Keep Consistent
To exercise as a family, you need to get creative and you need to stay consistent. There are only so many hours in a day. But busy doesn’t have to mean sedentary. When you make exercise part of the fabric of the family, the kids will respond in kind. And an active lifestyle is one of the best examples parents can set.

3 Ways to Improve Running Ergonomics and the Kinetic Chain

Going for a jog is far more complex than might meet the eye. Every motion—every single stride—is the product of a small orchestra conducted by your body. The bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons work in unison to make the running movement happen fluidly and efficiently.

This is known as a kinetic chain, of which there are many throughout the body. Within the running kinetic chain, we find the ergonomics of running. Much like office ergonomics, where improper seating, seat height, and other factors can cause painful and damaging imbalances, imperfections in your running ergonomics can present up and down the kinetic chain in a variety of (not so pleasant) ways.

What Comprises the Running Kinetic Chain?

Generally speaking, the kinetic chain as it relates to running is comprised of a few key parts:

  • Feet
  • Legs
  • Core
  • Lower back
  • Upper back
  • Arms and shoulders

Of course, within each part of the kinetic chain lives a vast array of muscles, ligaments, tendons, and bones. Deploying this chain to run with good form is challenging. Acute pain and chronic conditions, such as runner’s knee, tendonitis, and even strains could be the result of a weak link in the kinetic chain.

Use These Tips to Keep the Kinetic Chain Humming

Imbalances can be slow in developing. Poor core strength, for example, or gait imperfections, might cause pain or injury further up or down the line. The lower back, knees, and ankles—it’s all connected. Here are a few ways to ensure better running ergonomics and a strong and healthy kinetic chain.

1. Create a Strong Base

Central to maintaining proper running form starts with … well … your center. Working on core and leg strength will translate to a better ability to keep the core engaged during each running movement. This helps maintain control and avoid the imbalances that can create weakness in the chain.

Exercises that help create a strong base:

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Abdominal planks

2. Stay Flexible

To run with good form means striding properly and engaging the hips and core. This makes flexibility incredibly important to maintaining proper running ergonomics. Indeed, strong flexibility makes for a strong kinetic chain.

Activities that contribute to better flexibility for running:

  • Yoga
  • “Opening up” the hips
  • Consistent warm-up and cool-down routines

3. Move Intentionally

When you run, it is important to do so with information—to understand the mechanics involved. When you understand the mechanics, you can recognize bad habits and correct gait imbalances on the fly.

What to focus on for better movement:

  • Head position
  • Arm position and movement
  • Foot strike point

Finally, Examine Your Form

Sometimes, monitoring and correcting gait imbalances requires more than the naked eye. Runners of all skill levels use the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill™ with Stride Smart Gait Analytics to take a more precise look at all the elements of running ergonomics.

Using Stride Smart, therapists can use video monitoring to analyze and address gait imbalances on the fly. While the patient exercises, therapists can show them asymmetries and imbalances right then and there, allowing runners to self-correct. It is a highly effective and accessible way to address gait imbalances, ensure strong running ergonomics, and develop a rock-solid running kinetic chain.

Can You Walk On A Sprained Ankle?

Ah, our old friend the sprained ankle. It always seems to happen when we least expect, doesn’t it? Walking too close to the edge of the sidewalk. Coming down the mountain from a hike.

Stepping across the road in heels.

Even the slightest misstep can cause a painful sprain that can linger for weeks, even months. No one wants to be off their feet for too long, especially athletes and fans of regular exercise. The question is, can you walk on a sprained ankle?

Walk on a Sprained Ankle By Taking the Weight Off

The answer is: it depends on the severity of the sprain. There are three grades used to evaluate ankle sprains:

  • Grade I
  • Grade II
  • Grade III (most severe)

Although the first temptation might be to “walk it off,” this can cause more damage to stretched or torn ligaments and prolong recovery time. It’s important not to overdo it or get ahead of yourself: walking too soon on a sprained ankle can lead to reinjury, pain, and more chronic conditions like arthritis.

There are a few important activities that help people work through a sprained ankle:

  • RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation)
  • Re-strengthening exercises
  • Rebuilding stability, balance, and flexibility
  • Gradually introducing weight-bearing activities

How to Gradually Introduce Weight Bearing on a Sprained Ankle

Traditionally, crutches, boots, and braces are used to eliminate or significantly reduce the body-weight impact on a sprained ankle. This reduces injury risk and allows time to begin rebalancing and restrengthening the injured ankle.

Our very own AlterG AntiGravity Treadmill™ is often deployed to help patients recovering from ankle sprains. The Anti-Gravity Treadmill allows therapists to add body weight in small increments, monitor pain and use gait analysis to fine-tune walking or running mechanics. The result is a drastic reduction of re-injury risk and shorter recovery times altogether.

Recommended reading: Read our Grade III lateral ankle sprain protocol on our clinical resources page. In this case study, the Anti-Gravity Treadmill was used to gradually re-introduce weight bearing and build the strength and flexibility of the injured ankle. The results are remarkable.

6 Tips for Running in Your Fifties

Though it might feel like a steeper hill to climb, running in your fifties is definitely possible. Maintaining a regular running program doesn’t have to be a casualty of age! In fact, running can be quite a boon to your well-being as you age.

Yet, running in your fifties brings with it different considerations than, say, running in your twenties. Certain aspects of the program that you used to take for granted can now be the difference between a healthy routine and injury, chronic pain, and slow progress. Here are six tips to do it right:

1. Listen to Your Doctor
Start at the doctor’s office. The doctor will make recommendations about whether you are fit and healthy enough to run at all (and at what intensity). This information will help you design the right program for your age and fitness level.

2. Prioritize Recovery
Turning fifty doesn’t mean you can’t run anymore, but it might mean that recovery times might increase. At the age of fifty, perhaps more than ever in your past, recovery time will become terribly important. Make sure to leave enough time for sleep and take adequate rest days between runs. Work on proper diet and sleep to maximize recovery.

3. Tap into Flexibility, Stabilizers, and Balance
Running in and of itself asks a lot of our core strength, flexibility, and balance. Running in your fifties asks a bit more. Still, focusing on these areas can create a base that allows you to run longer and safer while limiting pain and injury.

4. Play the Long Game
As we age, it takes longer to make improvements and reach new heights in our running programs. It’s important to resist the temptation to overdo it, as injuries from overuse or overexertion also take longer to recover from in our fifties and beyond. The more in tune we are with our adjusted timelines, the longer we’ll be able to sustain a healthy program over time.

5. Consider Group Training
Running with other peers in your age group is a great way to calibrate your routine and stay within yourself. There are plenty of fifty-plus running groups in most cities. Take the leap and see how nice it is to run each week with people who share in and understand what it means to run in your fifties.

6. Say Goodbye to Younger You, Embrace the New You
Our final tip is all about outlook. Yes, it is true that we might lose some ability, conditioning, and capacity as we age. And it can be difficult to come to terms with what we feel like we’re capable of in our minds and what our bodies can actually do. Still, the sooner you embrace the “new you,” the quicker you’ll be able to adapt the right habits and approaches that make running in your fifties better than ever.

How to Increase Your Running Distance Safely

Establishing and maintaining a running program is always a challenge. Staying consistent, keeping things interesting, and pushing past the wall requires commitment. Adding more miles can be a whole other can of worms.

In the spirit of taking your program to the next level, here’s how to safely increase running distance while limiting your risk of injury and exhaustion.

Track Your Progress

Just as keeping a daily journal can help you keep a diet, so to can it help you improve your running program. We recommend setting a weekly mileage goal, then charting the miles you run every week. After you’ve hit your mark a few weeks in a row, review your logs to inform how many miles to add to your weekly total (and when).

Mix Up Distance and Running Routes

Whoever you talk to, boredom is the number one excuse for not running. Don’t let the tedium stunt your program! If you love running the same route every day, try reversing it every once in a while. Work in hills, mix up distances throughout the week. Assign one of your days for a “longer” run.

Load Up Before Your Rest Day

To that end, try planning your long run the day before a rest day. Knowing that you’ll have the next day to rest will give you the confidence to push it, both in terms of distance and pace.

Unlock the Power of Recovery Time

Speaking of rest days, your off days can be as important to adding distance than your “on” days. Rest days give your body time to recover and adapt. This means not only working rest days into your routine but making the most of that rest time by eating well and staying hydrated.

Finally, Listen to Your Body

Of all the ways to safely add distance to your running program, listening to your body is one of the most important. This doesn’t mean skipping run days because you don’t feel like it, no. Listening to your body means reading any indicators of overuse, exhaustion, and injury.

Because putting your body out of commission won’t do you any good when trying to add miles to your running program.

Learn how the Anti-Gravity Treadmill™ can help improve your running.

 

4 Simple Ways to Prevent an ACL Tear

It’s the pop that no one ever wants to hear. The knee buckles, the athlete goes down, and the season is over. An anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear can be an abrupt and painful end to a season or even a career. It is a serious setback that usually requires surgery and leads to long term conditions such as osteoarthritis.

What is an ACL Tear?
Your ACL is located in the knee joint and controls the movement of your shinbone in relation to the thigh bone. Direct impact, sudden stops and changes of direction, or turns and awkward landings are what most often lead to ACL injuries.

The injury itself is usually indicated by an audible pop, a buckling knee, immediate swelling, pain, and an inability to put weight on the affected limb. Given the movements that most commonly lead to ACL tears, you’ll frequently find this injury in soccer, football, and basketball (among other similar sports).

How to Prevent ACL Tears
An ACL tear can happen to anyone and a lot of factors contribute to the injury. Here are four sound ways to help prevent this injury:

1. Know, Prepare, and Listen to Your Body
Preparation and body awareness go a long way in preventing ACL tears. This includes properly warming up and stretching before all workouts, understanding proper body positioning (stance, how you push off and land, etc.), and avoiding “playing through” knee pain which can lead to overuse injuries and weakness.

2. Fortify Your Ligaments
As with most injuries and conditions, good nutrition and proper hydration are important parts of keeping ligaments healthy and strong. Eating lots of colorful fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, nuts and legumes will help ensure that your ligaments get the protein, calcium, and other nutrients they need to stay strong and protected from injury. Diet and nutrition are one of the most overlooked aspects of injury prevention.

3. Strengthen the Supporting Cast
The ability of your ACL to withstand athletic activities without injury depends in part on the strength, flexibility, and health of the surrounding muscle groups. It is important to strengthen the hamstrings. It is also useful to think of the entire chain of muscles involved in a given movement. Working to improve balance, agility, flexibility, and core strength will help you control the body and eliminate the need for compensatory movements that sometimes lead to injury.

4. Lower the Impact
For people at risk of ACL tears, such as those with previous knee injuries or older adults, there are ways to exercise while lowering the body-weight impact on the knees.

Pool training, for example, is a highly effective (and taxing!) way to continue training while reducing the risk of knee injury. For the purposes of training, therapy, and injury recovery, precision unweighting tools like the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill™ are a highly effective way to reduce the body-weight impact on the knee.

One patient, a Division I soccer player, suffered a severe ACL tear and completed a walking program on the Anti-Gravity Treadmill. The progressive loading and gait monitoring allowed her to recover, maintain cardiovascular fitness, and return to her sport sooner than expected. Read the ACL tear case study.

What’s the Difference Between Static and Dynamic Stretching?

Stretching is a lot like flossing. We know that it’s important and that we should be doing it. We know that it helps our bodies in the long run. Yet so many of us still skip this important activity altogether.

And just like skipping flossing, failing to properly stretch is a mistake. Done right, stretching helps us improve our range of motion, flexibility, and recovery time. For anyone serious about their fitness, stretching is non-negotiable, both before and after workouts. That goes for everything from weightlifting and gymnastics to basketball, volleyball, and rec league hockey.

Typically, a complete stretching program consists of both static and dynamic stretches. The question is, what’s the difference? And when is it best to do one or the other? Here’s a closer look at the difference between static and dynamic stretches, common applications, and some examples.

The Difference Between Static and Dynamic Stretching

The difference between static and dynamic stretching comes down to a simple thing: movement. A static stretch is, generally, any position you hold—often at the limit of a given joint’s range of motion—to increase flexibility. A lack of movement—hence the name static—is common to all of these stretches. No bouncing, changing position, or repetition of movement.

Applications of Static Stretching

  1. Flexibility
  2. Post-workout recovery
  3. Preventing bruising and soreness

3 Examples of Static Stretches

  • Standing hamstring foldover (touch your toes)
  • Seated groin and inner thigh stretch
  • Overhead triceps stretch

A dynamic stretch is any repetitive, more challenging motion aimed at loosening up muscles and joints. Usually, dynamic stretches are sports- or activity-based motions one repeats a number of times. If it feels challenging, it’s supposed to be. Watch professional athletes before a game or match and you’ll likely see them go through some form of dynamic stretching routine.

Applications of Dynamic Stretching

  1. Pre-workout warmup
  2. Endurance and conditioning training

3 Examples of Dynamic Stretches

  • High knees
  • Walking lunges
  • Lateral crossovers

Understanding the difference between static and dynamic stretching is the first step toward incorporating these important movements into your workouts.

If stretching remains on your list of need to do that more (ahem, right next to flossing), try this: select three to five dynamic stretches and perform them before your next workout. After your routine, perform three to five static stretches. Set a goal to apply this stretching routine to each workout for two weeks.

You’ll be amazed at the difference.

Workout Tips for When You’re Staying at a Hotel

If you tend to travel during the year, you know how disruptive a trip can be to a regular workout routine. Who has time to squeeze gym time into work trips and conferences? Vacations can make finding time to exercise even more challenging.

Who wants to do lunges when it’s time to party!?

Well, the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive. So we’ve put together our most practical and easy hotel workout tips. These will equip you with what you need to make the most out of your traveling gym—motel, hotel, or otherwise.

Tips for the Hotel Gym

Hotel gyms are not always the most exciting or well equipped. Use these tips to make the most out of whatever size gym room your hotel has to offer.

  • Come prepared – Bring along the basics, like a towel, water bottle, and mat so you can get more out of available flat space. If you find yourself in a windowless box in the basement of a Motel 6, music is your friend.
  • Get in some cardio – Sometimes, a treadmill or elliptical machine will be your only option. Most modern machines now include pre-programmed workouts, such as hill training or interval work. Mix it up and do something new and challenging so you don’t get bored.
  • Create stations with what you have – Create a circuit of workouts by moving from exercise to exercise. For example, you could do ten minutes on the treadmill, then a five-minute plank routine, before moving to weight lunges (if hand weights are available). Rinse and repeat three to five times, limiting rest time in between exercises.

 

  • Hit the pool – So what if everyone else is poolside? The pool is your friend! Try some pool calisthenics and dynamic movement routines, tread water for fifteen minutes, then do a few laps freestyle down and back. What better place to get your heart rate up than in the pool?

 

Tips for Working Out In Your Room

For those times when a workout room or pool isn’t available, here are some in-room workout tips:

 

  • Get going early – The best way to ensure you get your hotel workout done is to get it done first thing in the morning. This way, you don’t have to worry about fitting into you busy schedule later on.

 

 

  • Clear and prepare a space – It seems simple, but adequate space is a must. Move furniture around, turn the television off, put a mat down, and get some music going so you can focus on your workout.

 

  • Think burpees and bodyweight – You don’t need a lot of space to go through a challenging bodyweight routine. Get in a good warmup stretch, jumping jacks, and a quick ab routine. Then set the clock for ten to fifteen minutes and complete one hundred burpees before the time is up. There are a plenty of bodyweight workouts to choose from.

 

  • Try a yoga routine – All you need for a yoga routine is a mat and a little bit of space. Bring in some natural light if you can and try a thirty-minute yoga routine. Yoga can do wonders for your energy and balance, especially while traveling.

 

Finally, it’s important to remember that you probably won’t be able to recreate your workout routine completely. Put yourself in a maintenance mindset, where the workouts you do on your trip are to keep your baselines for when you do return home and get back into it full swing. Plan for the bare minimum in terms of time and equipment, come prepared, and these hotel workout tips should be more than you need to break a sweat no matter where you’re staying.