At the end of September, a few of us took up the offer of a free meal and an afternoon listening to some of the consultants from the Royal Surrey Hospital. It was an informative afternoon listening to their recent options for treatment of conditions from the foot, all the way up to the lumbar spine.
One of the things that struck me the most was Ms Julie Kohls-Galzoulis’s comments regarding Achilles problems. She was emphasizing that all too often she sees patients with chronic Achilles problems – mainly because they are impatient and fail to sufficiently rehabilitate the calf.
Healing the problem
She reminded us that tendons and ligaments take SO long to heal and are still remodelling themselves for more than 12 months after the initial injury. Bone when it breaks is healed with new bone – BUT tendons and ligaments remodel themselves using similar tissue to the original but not the same.
She was emphasizing the importance of stretching out the calf muscles which so often get tighter and stiffer as we age – or post injury, and that many do their stretches but then go back to running without ensuring that the calf muscle has adequate strength to take the impact.
She insisted that both calf stretches and eccentric strengthening should occur for both legs together and for each leg on its own until adequate strength and endurance has been achieved. Then and only then, are they able to recommence running drills and eventually get back to their full running schedule.
So – in short – if you are having problems with your calf or Achilles – stretch and strengthen and remember, the tortoise beat the hare in the end!