Best Way to Treat Achilles Tendonitis: Stretching & Moderation

graphic pic of Achilles tendon anatomyIf you are active in sports, you may have experienced discomfort or soreness in your Achilles (uh-KIL-eez) tendon at one time or another, or you may have heard one of your friends complain about Achilles tendonitis. The Achilles tendon connects the large calf muscles to the back of your heel. If you trace your finger along the back of your leg staring at the heel and moving upward toward the knee, you will appreciate both the Achilles tendon as well as the calf muscles, which pull on it from above.

What causes Achilles tendonitis? Continue reading “Best Way to Treat Achilles Tendonitis: Stretching & Moderation”

The Plank: Strengthening the Core

The Plank is one of my favorite exercises in the Gym. Here’s my write-up cross-posted from Aches & Joints.


The core is commonly thought of as only your abs, but consists of multiple muscle groups in your abdomen, back and pelvis. Core muscles are engaged during all activities requiring a coordinated movement of the upper and lower body. They generate the force and power required for many activities, while simultaneously playing a foundational role in stabilizing the torso.

Our modern sedentary lifestyle does nothing to working these important core muscles and over time result in their weakening, and the consequent injuries from seemingly simple tasks.]

There are various ways to strengthen these core muscles. The PLANK, for instance, is easy to perform, effective and appropriate for any age and fitness level. With no special equipment, the plank can be performed on a carpeted floor or mat in your living room, in the gym between sets of other exercises, or at the end of a workout. Also, the plank literally only takes a minute!

In performing the plank, you hold a steady position by isometrically contracting the deep stabilizing abdominal muscles (transverse abdominus), while keeping the lower back (erector spinae and multifidi) stable, fighting fatigue and simultaneously building endurance. This exercise is not appropriate if you have any shoulder weakness or injury.


Step by Step: How to perform and hold the Plank
Plank Strengthening the Core Aches & Joints

  • Have a wrist watch or clock nearby to track time
  • Start with palms on the floor, shoulder distance apart (see above), then lower to forearms only with and elbows directly below the shoulders as demonstrated below
  • It may be easier for many to start with knees and elbows on a mat
  • Extend legs back, one at a time, straightening the knees and balancing on your toes
  • Keep your body straight as a plank (see below)
  • Relax your neck and look down at the floor
  • As you fatigue, there will be a tendency for your hips to sag. Squeeze your deep abdominal muscles and glutes, and hold your hips in line with the rest of the body
  • For starters, hold the position for 30 seconds and work up to 60 seconds or longer
  • Rest on your knees; when ready, repeat plank for two additional sets

Plank Strengthening the Core Aches & Joints


For a more challenging workout: In the plank position, alternately lift and move each leg outwards (see demonstration below)
Plank Strengthening the Core Aches & Joints


Julie Schlenkerman, Personal Trainer, Clubs at Charles River ParkThe Plank was demonstrated by Julie Schlenkerman, certified personal trainer at the Clubs at Charles River Park, Boston, MA.

Julie is an avid runner and ran the 2009 Boston Marathon in 3:16:14!

Here is wishing Julie the very best for the Boston Marathon tomorrow.

Run Julie Run!


From My Archives: Simple exercises & Related articles

11 Essential Things to do Before a Long Run

(pic by Martineric from here)

Despite a tear in my medial meniscus, I hope to run the New York City Marathon on November 7, 2010. The long runs are the most grueling part of marathon training. There are NO crowds to cheer you, there is no one handing out water and no friends to pat you on the back. Its just you and the demons, on a long road. And it is you alone, my friend, who will have to slay the demons.

Having a checklist helps you get psyched for the long run and reduces the stress that you may have forgotten something important. It also works like a trial run for the Marathon. So prepare a list and tweak till you get it right; then it becomes your Marathon prep checklist. Continue reading “11 Essential Things to do Before a Long Run”

Heel, Calf, Hamstring Stretch for Plantar Fasciitis

If you are a runner, sooner or later you will encounter heel pain associated with plantar fasciitis. While there is no cure, simple exercises can take care of it.

Plantar fascia is the tissue band running along the bottom of the foot. Excessive walking, running, or irritation can inflame the tissues, causing severe heel pain. See my previous article on Treating Heel Pain with simple exercises. Here is another, very effective heel-leg stretch. Similar to others, this stretch takes less than 2 minutes. Continue reading “Heel, Calf, Hamstring Stretch for Plantar Fasciitis”

Tutorial: How to do Interval Training on a Treadmill

pics of Julie Schlenkerman doing intervals on a treadmill by Arun Shanbhag

In Interval Training, you combine a short, 1 minute burst of high intensity exercise followed by a 4 minute recovery period of low to moderate intensity. You string together these 5 minute cycles, or intervals, and end up with a very intense exercise regimen with amazing consequences. Also called High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), a 30 min interval training is the quickest way to lose weight, get physically fit and enhance your running speed.

Benefits of Interval Training: Continue reading “Tutorial: How to do Interval Training on a Treadmill”

Marine Corps Marathon 2008: The Long Slog!

Marine Corps Marathon 2008
time: 4:33:10
My Slowest Marathon!


Its been two weeks and now I can write about my slowest marathon.

The Course and the Run:
I loved the first ten miles of this course. Leaving the Pentagon, the course works its way through the narrow streets of Arlington, VA. The mass of runners then worms their way over the George Washington Parkway and through the forests of Georgetown. It was a nice incline and the heavy breathing of runners filled the cool air. As we worked uphill, sunlight filtered through fall trees and only a few feet ahead, runners disappeared in fog mingling with mist from their breath. It was a beautiful slog. Then we raced down to the center of Georgetown to a large and raucous crowd. At that point, it was only mile Ten, and I was ahead of my expected 4:00 h pace!
Continue reading “Marine Corps Marathon 2008: The Long Slog!”

Heel Drop – Stretching Calf Muscles

The Heel Drop is another great exercise to stretch the calf muscles, the Achilles tendon, as well as the fascia under the heel. You can do this where ever you see a set of stairs. And it only takes a couple of minutes. One of my favorites before I head out for a run!

Stretching Calf Muscles, Meg Vitter

  • Look for a set of stairs with railings.
  • Hold on to railings for support.
  • Place the ball of your left foot on the edge of a step.
  • Place entire right foot on the step above for stability.
  • Gradually let the heel of your left foot drop, while keeping your leg straight.
  • Feel the stretch in the sole of your left foot, Achilles tendon and calf muscles.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat the stretch three to five times for each leg.
  • You can even repeat this after a run or a workout.

Demonstrated by Meg Vitter of Boston, MA.


Also read:
Treating Heel Pain or Plantar Fasciitis;
Heel and Achilles Tendon Stretch;
Toe Extension;
Precautions to take before starting new exercises

See other exercises at Aches & Joints

© Arun Shanbhag 2008

Yoga of Running: Tough Mile 1

running yoga distance running, marathons
You’d think, after completing several marathons, running comes easy to me. Well, once I get going, I do enjoy it. But getting started on any run is always tough. Particularly Mile 1. I am not talking about a 1 mile sprint. Just the first mile of a long or short run. Its a tough mile!

I have stretched; sipped water and I head out the door. Reset the stopwatch; push off and go.

In about a 100 meters, I am panting! My mouth is wide open and my chest is heaving. My breathing is very labored and you could hear my gasps 20 feet away. My legs feel all wrong and my arms are like clumsy appendages. I wonder, are my lungs ok? I really cannot go on for another hour like this.

My legs feel wobbly. No pain, just completely uncoordinated. Like a toddler taking her first steps. Nothing grossly wrong. My feet are not splayed wide like a duck’s. I have the right shoes on and laces are tight. Knees don’t hurt.

My hips reluctantly and erratically swinging forward; pushing my knees ahead – seemingly uncontrollably. Hamstrings fire and decide how far my knee goes. Muscles and tendons in my calf are grudgingly lifting my ankle and projecting the foot forward. My foot is still learning how to land. Unsure where to take the load – should my ankle flex and land on the heel, or on the flat, or on the ball of my foot. Terrain is still alien and the pace, who knows. As my hips swing forward, my opposite arm is swinging back and my hands and fingers seem unsure of what to do. They are itching to do something, just not sure what.

No pain, just that odd feeling inside: this is so damn uncoordinated! So grace-less!

Continue reading “Yoga of Running: Tough Mile 1”

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