Monday, 23 October 2017

The Achilles Problem


Recently a client of mine (lets call him Duncan) tore his Achilles’ tendon.
Duncan is a pretty active guy he is Middle aged, walks a lot and in good health. He tore it when he twisted off from  a beam just a few inches from the ground. It seemed unlikely that this tiny event should result in him being in a full leg cast. We discussed why it had happened so easily. What had gone wrong? The answer is that it is not anyones’s fault he is a victim of modern life. 

This tendon connects the hard working, ever flexing, big strong muscle system of the leg, to the foot. All of the power of your body is harnessed in this strong belt as it controls the foot.
If your body was a crane the Achilles’ tendon would be the chain attaching the load to the machinery. In Duncan’s case the machinery was strong and the load was heavy - the chain was not strong enough.

Flat floors, pavements, car parks, office floors, parks and playing fields ensure that the ankle is never worked out, never has to become powerful and flexible. Duncan’s parents, like most, will have put him in supportive shoes and convention has dictated that he continued to wear them. The result is that regardless of the efforts he has put in to keeping the rest of his body fit and flexible his feet and ankles have not become supple and strong. This imbalance is a weakness, an Achilles heel….had to, sorry!

I recently went walking in Clachan Seil. There are no paths there. The ground is uneven.  Grassy tussocks, earth mounds, animal foot depressions filled with mud, rocks and tree roots in the rushes, ferns and heather make it difficult to know how your foot will land.   In order to recover from the odd angles and slides that inevitably occur In such natural conditions the ankles have to be strong and flexible if not it is easy to turn an ankle.


Traditionally walkers wear heavy boots. Firm souls and laced support over the ankles will minimise torsion but it does nothing to help with your balance. The rest of the body has to take up the strain of the work that the foot and ankle would and should do. This results in hip tension and tight calves, and that can lead to…wait for it….Achilles tension!  

It is hard to find footwear that allows your feet and ankles to function and it takes years to gain strength that you were never able to develop naturally. But dear Duncan’s recent incapacity proves that we really need to start working out our feet.

Recently a client of mine (lets call him Duncan) tore his Achilles’ tendon. Duncan is a pretty active guy he is Middle aged,  walks a lot and in good health. He tore it when he twisted off from  a beam just a few inches from the ground. It seemed unlikely that this tiny event should result in him being in a full leg cast. We discussed why it had happened so easily. What had gone wrong? The answer is that it is not anyones’s fault he is a victim of modern life. 

This tendon connects the hard working, ever flexing, big strong muscle system of the leg, to the foot. All of the power of your body is harnessed in this strong belt as it controls the foot.
If your body was a crane the Achilles’ tendon would be the chain attaching the load to the machinery. In Duncan’s case the machinery was strong and the load was heavy - the chain was not strong enough.

Flat floors, pavements, car parks, office floors, parks and playing fields ensure that the ankle is never worked out, never has to become powerful and flexible. Duncan’s parents, like most, will have put him in supportive shoes and convention has dictated that he continued to wear them. The result is that regardless of the efforts he has put in to keeping the rest of his body fit and flexible his feet and ankles have not become supple and strong. This imbalance is a weakness, an Achilles heel….had to, sorry!

I recently went walking in Clachan Seil. There are no paths there. The ground is uneven.  Grassy tussocks, earth mounds, animal foot depressions filled with mud, rocks and tree roots in the rushes, ferns and heather make it difficult to know how your foot will land.   In order to recover from the odd angles and slides that inevitably occur In such natural conditions the ankles have to be strong and flexible if not it is easy to turn an ankle.


Traditionally walkers wear heavy boots. Firm souls and laced support over the ankles will minimise torsion but it does nothing to help with your balance. The rest of the body has to take up the strain of the work that the foot and ankle would and should do. This results in hip tension and tight calves, and that can lead to…wait for it….Achilles tension!  

It is hard to find footwear that allows your feet and ankles to function and it takes years to gain strength that you were never able to develop naturally. But dear Duncan’s recent incapacity proves that we really need to start working out our feet.

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