Tag Archives: strength

Achilles Rehab: Running Strength Training

The steps I’ve taken in my Achilles rehab.. In particular insertional Achilles tendinopathy. Some guidelines which may help you with your achilles troubles.


One of the problems with the Achilles tendon is as you get older it can get a lot weaker. Running alone will not provide the strengthening required.

What’s made my case harder is it’s an insertional Achilles tendinopathy.
Where the Achilles joins the heel you start involving the bone and bursa. The bursa is a fluid-filled sac that usually creates a bit of glide and cushioning. This becomes inflamed and you end up with bursitis. This will create further damage.

In the acute phase of injury the most important part is don’t cause
further damage. So I stopped running, took the load off it
avoided stretching the Achilles. Kept it elevated and used iced the injury for 15 to 20 minutes about every 2 hours with 2 days worth of oral
anti-inflammatories.

Achilles Focus

Tendon injuries require loading to get better. After we get past the first 2-3 days of the acute phase there are 2 key points to follow:

  1. applied load to strengthen the tendon
  2. don’t cause anything to aggravate the injury

One of the biggest problems with an insertional Achilles injury is when you stretch it pulls the tendon across and presses up against the bursa. Any stretching we usually do for our calves will likely aggravate the injury. Doing calf exercises where you drop the heel down below level will stretch the tendon.

Limiting movement and stretch of the tendon while applying load is the early plan.

How do we do that?

Isometrics

You have 2 main muscles in your calves .

The gastrocnemius which is the main muscle that goes from the tendon itself up across the back of the knee and joins just above. You strengthen that mostly with a reasonably straight leg. The other muscle is
the soleus, which joins below the knee. To target that we need to take the gastrocnemius out of it. So you need to do the exercises with a bent knee.

The isometric protocol I used was an isometric calf raise straight leg
and an isometric calf raise bent leg. The plan was to increase the load every week on the proviso that 24 hours after a training session I didn’t have increasing pain. There could still be some discomfort but not an increasing pain from the previous day.

The aim was to do these exercises at least once a day, preferably
twice.

Loading initially was holding 30 seconds with 30 to 60
seconds rest in between. Do that for a week then increase that to 5 times 1 minute with 30 to 60 seconds rest. Progress to 3 x 2 minutes with 30 to 60 seconds rest in between finally ending on 1 x 5 minutes.

Concentrics

After isometrics we moved on to the next level and start introducing some movements.

I kept the isometric training going but this time the training sessions started with some actual movement of calf raise both a straight leg and bent leg.

With body weight the aim was to do 3 sets of starting
at 10 reps and building that up to 20 reps for each exercise. Taking 30-60 seconds rest between movements. The aim was to get it done
almost every day, but I was happy with 5 days a week.

Extra Load

Next progression was to add extra weight to the loading. Using a barbell across the shoulder for the straight leg calf raises. Or across the knees for seated calf raises.

Achilles Progression

The Achilles’ tendon requires loading to improve. It takes time. Longer than we all want it to. Plus this post only covers the early stages. Beyond these first weeks you will need to start addressing power, elasticity and reactive strength. But that is for a future post.

For a look at earlier stages of my Achilles Injury check out the video below

Super Slow Reps: Training When You Can’t Train

How do you training when you can’t train? Making use of super slow reps while I’m limited in the exercise I can do.

Limitations

At 3 weeks post skin graft I’m finally allowed to do a very small amount of exercise. Even though the graft is healing well, it is far from mature. I still have to protect it. I’m not allowed to do any leg exercise. Plus the stitches at the front of my right hip limit plenty of movements.

Limited in how much time I can spend up right before having to elevate my leg. I also have to avoid sweating. All training will be well within these limitations.

To stay within those limitations I am performing some upper body strength training. The session will be under 30 minutes. Weights will be kept extremely light.

How do I get the most benefit from this?

The answer is make each repetition super slow.

How Slow Are Super Slow Reps?

Well, super slow reps are way slower than is comfortable. As slow as 10 seconds up, and 10 seconds down.

Slowing the exercises down this much increases the time under tension which may provide an increased stimulus, Plus it provides the opportunity to improve the mind-muscle connection. Make those adjustments to technique to target exactly the movement and muscles that I’m aiming for.

The slow speed keeps the whole body effort lower, reducing the likelihood of a raised core temperature and sweating.

Taking the opportunity to work on something different and some corrective work. So I’m performing some work on my shoulders and upper back. Aiming to open them up. Remove the feeling of being closed and rounded forward from all the sitting and lying with my leg over the previous weeks.

The Training

2 sets of 2-10 reps, with a rest of 2-3 minutes in between.

The key is to keep some difficulty in maintaining in the final few reps, but not working hard through my whole body.

Exercise selection:

  • Pull up
  • Bench press
  • Rear deltoid raise with supination
  • Seated dumbell press
  • Later deltoid raise
  • Dumbell preacher curl

These exercises are better demonstrated in video, than in words. So I cover this in my following vlog:

Not the most extensive or intense training. This at least has me moving while keeping well within the limitations I have with a skin graft. Now I can actually start doing some exercise I feel happier.

Make Running Add To Life: Training Log

Running shouldn’t get in the way of life. It has recently for me. This impacts others. I have changed my approach to make running add to life instead. Let’s see if it works.

 

Last week went a little something life this:

  • 10km Easy + Strength
  • 8km Easy
  • 8km Easy
  • 5km Easy + Strength
  • 8km Easy
  • 8km Easy
  • 5km Regeneration

Total 52km

 

Easy

 

The majority of my runs are listed as easy. This doesn’t mean they are all a slow jog. It is more about the feeling and recovery cost needed. I aim for the run to feel comfortable and natural. Doing what is required to keep my technique on point. Speed and intensity are a byproduct of this. Recovery cost should be low. A good guide is to be able to able to repeat the same quality of run the following day.

 

Never underestimate The Power Of Easy Runs.

 

Strength

 

The tighter structure and scheduling on my strength training has felt good. Reinvigorating my enthusiasm for this aspect of training. No longer just whenever I feel I can fit it in. Giving away a few running kilometres means I am getting more strength work done. Because of the structure it is also taking less time over the week.

 

For the details check out Basic Strength Training For Running.

 

 

Make Running Add To Life

 

All habits perceived as healthy can become unhealthy. Chasing the extreme or wrong reasons can take you there. Every so often it pays to check you are running for the right reasons.

 

Checking in on my own reasons I had to make adjustments. It isn’t dedication if it’s easier to run than to sort your other stuff out. There is addiction to the runner’s high and clearance of mind. I’ve chased it too far lately. Time to bring it back to a level to make running add to life.

 

Runner Chats recorded an amazing podcast with Simone Brick. Covering many topics, but delving into running as healthy versus unhealthy. Definitely worth a listen.

Basic Strength Training For Running

Including strength training in your running program will improve your running. How much improvement depends on what you do and how you do it. In this post I work through the basic strength training for running I currently do.

There is so much information available on strength training. Unfortunately most of it is low quality.

Good quality research on strength training for running is limited. There is still some out there.

Requirements of my strength training:

  • Time efficient
  • Increase fitness for life and work
  • Improve running

 

Time Efficient

 

One thing that gets in the way of strength training is if it encroaches on other aspects. The structure of the plan has to fit in well with my life, plus give me a good rate of return. Good news is you don’t need a huge time commitment to get the gains you are after.

 

 

 

Increase Fitness For Life And Work

 

I love my life and I want to get the most out of it. To achieve this it helps to be fit and capable of doing the things I want and need to. Back pain, injuries and fatigue at work and life are thing I don’t want to have to endure. Therefore the training plan needs to assist with this.

 

My job provides a mixture of sitting, manual handling and the occasional moment of high demand physical efforts. There are different injury risks in each category. Having a functional and strong body mitigates some of that risk.

 

It’s important to have the energy to participate fully in the rest of family and life. Approach training as a means to enhance life.

 

 

Improve Running

 

This is why we’re here. Enough said. Let’s get into the details.

 

Basic Strength Training For Running Plan

 

Keep it simple.

Basic Strength Training For Running•Time efficient

One main, full body workout every 3rd or 4th day. For those living more normal hours than me, that means 2 main workouts every week. These workouts ideally will be after a harder run. Either straight away, or later in the day. It is best not to do them the day before a key run. The carry over fatigue tends to reduce the quality of the run.

 

In between the main workouts, short 10-15 minute core training sessions are performed. Ideally it would be best to include one on every day without a main workout, but I will accept a minimum of 1 core training session between every main workout.

 

 

 

Main Full Body Workout

 

The exercise list

  1. Standing Single Leg Calf Raise 6-15 reps
  2. Seated Calf Raise 6-15 reps
  3. Single Leg Hamstring Raise 6-15 reps
  4. Lunge 4-10 reps
  5. Squat 4-10 reps
  6. Pull Up 4-10 reps
  7. Shoulder Press 4-10 reps
  8. Ab Wheel Rollout 6-15 reps
  9. Back Extension 6-15 reps

 

First week starts with 2 sets of each exercise. Second week 3 sets. Third week 4 sets of each exercise and this is maintained from then on.

 

Rest between each set will be approximately 2 minutes. Give or take 30 seconds either way. For the single leg exercises, I consider one side rested while working the other side.

 

The time commitment for a session is 30 minutes when it’s at 2 sets and extending up to 50-60 minutes at 4 sets per exercise.

 

 

Core Training

 

For the 10-15 minute core training sessions there is less structure. Instead the aim is steadily work almost continuously for 10-15 minutes. That time is filled moving through a series of core stability and strengthening exercises.

 

Most work will involve a swiss ball and focus on rotation and anti-rotation exercises. Basically this means keeping the core in a neutral position while moving a load around in different positions. This concept is best demonstrated in video over words. Lebron James shows off this concept to a high level in the article LeBron’s Secret To Being Better Than Ever In Season 15? Superhuman Core Strength.

 

Intensity

 

Intensity and form are important. Poor form leads to injury risk. Therefore the load must be within a range to it keep it together. However, the load must also be hard enough to get results.

 

Science suggests we get more benefits in improved connective tissue strength, limb stiffness and muscle power from higher loads performed for 2-4 sets of 4-15 repetitions compared to circuit style training or lower loads performed for more repetitions.

 

Exercise Selection

 

This is individual. Injury history, current imbalances, strength profile and equipment available all influence which exercises you choose. Different exercises can achieve the same goal. So I’ll go through the overriding principles of my selection.

 

Calves are targeted with 2 exercises. These have become a relative weak point for me over the last couple of years. Weakening of the calf muscles as we age has been shown to be a major cause of reduced stride length. Leading to the shuffling running pattern I am trying to avoid. I aim to turn that around.

 

The hamstrings play an increasing role as the speed of running increases. I want to run faster. Therefore I will strengthen the hamstrings.

 

Squats are included as a big lift. Dead lifts could be used in their place. There are potential benefits from squats and dead lifts beyond the direct strength gains. Research has shown there is a greater hormone response elicited compared to machine or exercises using lighter loads. Does this lead to further other improvements? Maybe. The science is far from conclusive. Including squats in my strength work usually has me feeling stronger overall.

Remaining exercises are chosen to cover the major movement patterns of the upper body, push, pull, extension and flexion. Rotation is covered is covered in the core training on days without the main full body workout.

 

Your Turn

 

What strength training do you include?

Would you like to know more about anything in this article?

Let me know in the comments below.