Evan Bates and Madison Chock make up a high-energy ice dance team with high hopes for gold as they represent the US at the Sochi Winter Olympics. Bates is all too familiar with the risks of the sport. In 2010 his former partner’s skate lacerated his Achilles tendon while coming down from a lift. After having surgery to repair the damage, he, along with other Olympic athletes can well attest to the importance of Achilles stretching.
If you are an athlete, stretching is one of those disciplines that should be made a habit to prevent injury. The Achilles tendon runs along the back of your leg and connects your calf muscles to your heel bone. It is the strongest tendon in your body, able to withstand great amounts of stress. It does have limits, though, as any part of your body does, and needs to be cared for if you are highly active.
There are many Achilles stretching exercises that make a big difference in avoiding tendonitis or rupture. Start with facing a wall and with both hands on the wall, extend the foot to be stretched behind you. You want to keep your knee bent and your heel on the ground. Lean into the wall and sink your hips slightly to feel the stretch. Repeat on the other leg. Next, stand with the balls of your feet on the edge of a step. One foot at a time, allow the heel to dip slightly below the edge until you feel a stretch in your calf and Achilles. Hold for a few seconds and the switch to the other leg. Finally, sit in a chair with the heel of one foot on the ground in front of you. Reach down and gently pull your big toe up and back for a nice stretch along the back of your heel.
If these exercises do not seem to help or you are fearful of a serious Achilles injury, please contact Dr. Harvey Danciger for evaluation and treatment. Whether you have the Olympics in sight or just a backyard game of football, we want your feet to stay healthy. Call our Palm Desert, CA office at (760) 568-0108 to schedule an appointment today.