My favourite group fitness class to teach is step aerobics. I love the music, the choreography, the sweat and the fun of teaching new patterns to my class participants.
Last week, however, step class didn’t love me. In the middle of an ‘L’ step-knee repeater combo I felt a twinge in my left Achilles tendon (the tissue that attaches your heel to the back of your leg).
It started as a dull ache at the back of the heel, most pronounced when stepping back and off the step, but also during jumping jacks, speed skaters, grapevines and lunges. And quickly progressed to full on, tender-to-the-touch pain.
I did what any other instructor would do with a potential injury-in-the-making and 30 minutes of class left to teach; reduce the impact, switch to verbal instruction and modify my lesson plan on the fly. My class was thrilled to spend an extra 10 minutes on abs 🙂 (If you love core training as much as they do, you’ll want to make sure you see this week’s #FatblasterFriday workout video!)
I spent the rest of the day alternating between hobbling around and icing the back of my foot. The pain was even worse the next morning; it took me a good 15 minutes to be able to comfortably walk with both heels on the floor. And of course, my right heel decided to join in, just to keep the left company, I suppose.
A quick search of Dr. Google (with corroboration from a physiotherapist friend) identified my injury as ‘Achilles tendonitis‘.
Primary causes of Achilles tendonitis include overuse of the foot, improper body mechanics, poorly cushioned shoes, excessive hill running and sudden stops and starts. Achilles tendonitis is common among runners, dancers, STEP CLASS participants and basketball players.
Since I’m not a runner or a basketball player, I regularly alternate between two pairs of relatively new and well-cushioned shoes, and I think my body mechanics during exercise are pretty good (but of course, we can ALL improve…), the culprit is likely too much step aerobics.
Treatment suggestions include icing 3-4 times each day (check), stretching out tight calf and ankle muscles (check) and taking a break from the activity that caused the injury (NO!). It’s also advised to avoid sitting for too long (another reason besides accumulating 10 000 steps a day to get up from my desk more frequently).
Thankfully, I’ve already scheduled two weeks away from teaching; serendipity has me heading to a fitness and health blogger’s conference in Portland tomorrow (Fitbloggin, here I come; follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see photos and updates in real-time!) followed by a long, holiday weekend (Happy Birthday Canada!).
I’m hoping that avoiding all movements that trigger the symptoms during that time will leave me ready to head back to class mid-July. Cross your fingers for me?
Have you ever had Achilles tendonitis?
If so, what sport or activity caused it? How long did it take to recover from? (PLEASE tell me ‘2 weeks’…)