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Nick, Our Thoughts

Achilles tendon injuries are very commonly associated with sport and exercise, can often take a long time to heal, and often recur when returning back to sport and exercise – very frustrating!

The good news is that most Achilles tendon injuries respond well to conservative management consisting of an initial period of rest, Physiotherapy treatment, a programme of stretches and strengthening exercises, and a graduated return to sport and exercise.

With the above in mind, here is an example of how an Achilles tendon injury can respond very well to conservative management;

Recently a patient came to see me regarding a stiff and sore Achilles tendon that had been troubling her for about three months. She injured her Achilles tendon when she slipped on the muddy ground while going for her regular lunchtime walk around Auckland Domain. She initially rested her Achilles tendon for a few weeks and when it felt better, she tried to go for a lunchtime walk in the Domain, but her Achilles tendon quickly became stiff and sore again. This pattern continued over the next few months, i.e. a period of rest, her Achilles tendon feeling better, and then the pain and stiffness returning as soon as she tried to exercise again.

When I first saw her at Olympic Physiotherapy I assessed her injured Achilles tendon and saw that it looked puffy, was tender to touch, and her calf muscle above the injured tendon was weak and tight. Treatment consisted of massaging her injured Achilles tendon with anti-inflammatory cream, stretching her tight calf, and icing her Achilles tendon. I also encouraged her to do this at home twice daily and to start some light stationary cycling on a daily basis. After a week she reported her Achilles tendon was feeling a little better, and after two weeks she was very pleased to report her Achilles tendon was feeling much better!

 I have now suggested she go for a short lunchtime walk in the Domain every second day, exercycle lightly on the days in between, and to continue with the massage, stretching and icing in the evenings. I have also started her on some light strengthening exercises which will further assist her recovery, and help reduce the chances of injuring her Achilles tendon again in the future.

I hope the above example reassures those of you that are suffering from a sore Achilles tendon, or have suffered from an injured Achilles tendon in the past, that most Achilles tendon injuries recover very well if managed correctly.

With the above in mind, give us a call here at Olympic Physiotherapy if you are suffering from a stiff or sore Achilles tendon, as we would be very happy to assist you with your recovery and a successful return to your regular sport and exercise!

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Nick, Stu

Tips for Preventing Foot and Ankle Injuries

Foot and ankle injuries are common in sports, especially in winter sports such as rugby, netball, and soccer. But you can reduce the risk of injury by taking some simple precautions.

Use strapping or a brace if you have sprained your ankle before

If you have sprained an ankle before, getting your ankle strapped (or wearing an ankle brace), will greatly reduce your chances of re-spraining your ankle. This is particularly important if your previous ankle sprain was recent.

Warm up prior to training and playing

Get to training and games early so you have time to do a thorough warm-up. If you are well warmed up you are less likely to get injured. Warming up is particularly important when it is wet and cold through the middle of winter. ACC’s SportSmart website (https://accsportsmart.co.nz/warmup/), has some excellent warm-up routines specific for rugby, netball, league and touch rugby.

Condition your ankles for your sport

Doing some drills at training that are specific for your sport to improve your balance and strength will help reduce the chances of foot and ankle sprains. An example of one of these drills would be regularly balancing on one leg with your eyes closed for 30 – 60 seconds to improve balance. At Olympic Physiotherapy we can design a specific programme of exercises to help you improve your balance and strength specifically for your sport. Netballers may like to visit Netball New Zealand’s website (http://netballnz.co.nz/useful-info/netball-smart), which contains some excellent drills and training advice with regards to injury prevention.

 Choose shoes that are specifically for your sport

Wearing shoes that are designed for the specific demands of your sport is very important. Cross trainers are an overall good choice, however, it is best to use shoes designed for your sport. Nike Free Runners are not sports shoes!

Replace your shoes regularly

You should have started each season with a new pair of shoes, and replace them during the season if they show signs of wear and tear.

Listen to your body

If you experience foot and ankle pain at training or during a game, stop until the pain subsides. If the pain persists, you should ice the painful area and make an appointment at Olympic Physiotherapy for assessment of your injury and appropriate treatment before returning to your sport.

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