(Warning: A lot of Scientific Data and Information Overload!)
The Achilles tendon is the thickest tendon in the body. Here is a little anatomy for you: a tendon, such as the Achilles tendon, connects muscle to bone. It is at the back of the lower leg, and it connects with the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles (aka: Calf muscle) to the Calcaneus (heel) bone.
Now, let’s talk about Physics:
“Ground reaction force (GRF) happens when your foot makes contact with the ground and the ground pushes back with equal force,” states Dr. Romanov in “The Running Revolution.” We want to think about Newton’s Third Law: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Greater angle in your fall, great GRF. If you are a swimmer, you are applying Newton’s Third Law…right? The swimmer is pushing the water backwards, while the water simultaneously pushes the swimmer forward. When your foot makes contact to the ground, your muscles and tendons will lengthen like a bow-string, absorbing the GRF of impact.
WOW! WHAT A MINUTE!!! BRAIN OVERLOAD! But here is why it is important!
Your Achilles tendon is the muscle-tendon elasticity system that will help you react to the ground faster. This will ONLY happen though when you land on your forefoot. Think about when you heel strike…that is a TON of impact on the body, hence you will see PF, IT Band issues, etc. Look at your back leg of a dog, cat or cheetah…pull back on that leg. What happens? It “springs” back. They have that muscle elasticity that we don’t have. We need to work on it.
How do we work on our muscle elasticity with our Achilles?
Base Jump Forward Movement Drill
- Start in your Springiness position.
- Shift your hips over your base of support and fall forward.
- Jump to catch yourself but be careful of not to push from your toes or using your calves’ muscles like you would do in a broad jump.
- Land on the ball of your feet and letting your heels slightly touch the ground.
Another drill for working the Achilles: Box jumps on a 20-inch box and rebounding back up again. If you don’t feel comfortable jumping on a box, head to a curb and jump 10 x up and down working on your springiness action.
Achilles tendon does not have to be YOUR Achilles heel. If you stay ahead of the game, working on landing forefoot, along with keeping your ankles and feet flexible and calves stretch. You will be running like a cheetah in no time!
Disclaimer: All of this information would NOT be possible if it was not for Dr. Romanov and his AMAZING team at Pose Method Running. Check out the new book, “The Running Revolution.”