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Posts for: January, 2011

All About Achilles

The Achilles tendon is the strongest tendon in the body, and it is located in one of the most overused and under-appreciated body parts of the foot. Because the foot is subjected to great amounts of stress every day (while running the pressure on each foot can be four times normal body weight), it is prone to injuries. The Achilles tendon is a thick, cord-like structure that inserts into the back of the heel bone. A common Achilles injury is tendinitis is an inflammation of the tendon. Symptoms usually include a burning pain or tenderness in the area two inches above the heel bone.

There are many causes of Achilles tendinitis but the most common are training errors, calf muscles inflexibility and bio-mechanical abnormalities. Training errors include increasing your workout intensity too suddenly or changing your running terrain too abruptly. Inflexibility of the calf muscles can result from improper or inadequate stretching. This inflexibility can also be due to wearing high-heeled shoes that tend to shorten the tendon.

The Achilles tendon has a relatively poor blood supply and this accounts for the longer time these injuries often take to heal. Early treatment is necessary to prevent chronic injury. Initially, you should reduce or stop your sports activities for a period of time, and ice the back of the Achilles three times a day for 15 minutes. Using heel cups can help take the stress off the tendon, but be sure to place them in both shoes or you may develop an imbalance that can lead to other injuries.

While Achilles tendinitis can be slow to heal, if your pain lingers for more than two weeks, seek the care of a podiatric physician for a more thorough evaluation.

Eat Right…Your Feet Will Thank You

Osteoporosis is a disease of progressive bone loss associated with an increased risk of fractures. It literally means “porous bone”. The disease often develops unnoticed over many years, with no symptoms or discomfort, until a fracture occurs. One of the first places one may see the effects of osteoporosis is in the feet. A stress fracture in the foot is often a first sign.

There is a lot you can do throughout your life to prevent osteoporosis, slow its progression and protect yourself from fractures.

Include Adequate Amounts of Calcium & Vitamin D in Your Diet

During the growing years, your body needs calcium to build strong bones and to create a supply of calcium reserves. Building bone mass when you are young is a good investment for your future. Inadequate calcium during growth can contribute to the development of osteoporosis later in life. Whatever your age or health status, you need calcium to keep your bones healthy. Calcium continues to be an essential nutrient after growth because the body loses calcium every day. Although calcium can’t prevent gradual bone loss after menopause, it continues to play an essential role in maintaining bone quality. Even if you have gone through menopause or already have osteoporosis, increasing your intake of calcium and vitamin D can decrease your risk of fracture. How much calcium you need will vary depending on your age and other factors. The National Academy of Sciences make the following recommendations regarding daily intake of calcium:

  • Males & Females 9 to 18 years : 1,300 mg per day
  • Women & Men 19 to 50 years: 1,000 mg per day
  • Pregnant/Nursing women up to age 18: 1,300 mg per day
  • Pregnant/Nursing women 19-50 years: 1,000 mg per day
  • Women & Men over 50: 1,200 mg per day

Daily products, including yogurt and cheese are excellent sources of calcium. An 8-ounce glass of milk contains about 300 mg of calcium. Other calcium-rich foods include sardines with bones and green leafy vegetables, including broccoli and collard greens.

If your diet doesn’t contain enough calcium, dietary supplements can help. Talk to your doctor before taking a calcium supplement.

Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. The recommendation for vitamin D is 200-600 iu daily. Supplemented dairy products are an excellent source of vitamin D. (A cup of milk contains 100 iu. A multi-vitamin contains 400 iu of vitamin D.) Vitamin supplements can be taken if your diet doesn’t contain enough of this nutrient. Again consult with your doctor before taking a vitamin supplement. Too much vitamin D can be toxic.
Exercise Regularly

Like muscles, bones need exercise to stay strong. No matter what your age, exercise can help you minimize bone loss while providing many additional health benefits. Doctors believe that a program of moderate, regular exercise (3 to 4 times a week) is effective for the prevention and management of osteoporosis. Weight bearing exercises such as walking, jogging, hiking, climbing stairs, dancing, treadmill exercises, and weight lifting are probably best. Falls account for 50% of fractures, therefore, even if you have low bone density, you can prevent fractures if you avoid falls. Programs that emphasize balance training, especially Tai Chi, should be emphasized. Consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program.