Monday, October 28, 2013

Achilles Pain Related To Your Glute Strength

I've just had 3 patients in a row today all come and see me with pain in their Achilles. Strangely enough, all 3 had weakness in their gluteus medius muscle despite that side being their dominant (and should be stronger) leg. That was also the leg that had Achilles pain. Hence this write up.

It has been published and I've written before on how your gluteus medius (or buttock muscles) can cause knee pain especially in females. Well guess what, I just found a published paper from Australian researchers that found a link between gluteus medius and maximus weakness and Achilles pain (in male runners). Yet more confirmation on how important your gluteus medius and maximus really are.

The Australian researchers in the published paper compared 2 groups of male runners where one group had Achilles pain while the control group did not. Both groups of  runners did short runs at about 6:40 min per mile pace and the group of runners with Achilles pain were found to activate their gluteus muscles later than the group with no Achilles pain.

And not only that, their gluteal activation was also shorter in duration compared to the pain free group. This is of significance as poorer gluteal muscle activation can cause increased hip internal rotation and adduction (movement towards the midline of the body) leading to Achilles problems.

The authors are suggest retraining and strengthening gluteal muscles be included for runners with Achilles injuries.

The causes of your Achilles pain can be multifactorial, one of which can be due to your weakness in your gluteus medius and maximus as described above. Come see us at Physio and Sports Solutions to treat the cause of your Achilles pain.

Worth a look?

Smith MM, Honeywill C et al (2013). Neuromotor Control in Runners with Achilles Tendinopathy. Med Sci in Sports Ex. doi: 10.1249/MSS .0000000000000133.

*Pictures from

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Triathletes Feel Less Pain Than Others

Me at the 2005 SEA Games on the left
We know triathletes can handle a lot of pain, especially since they need to push through pain barriers to complete their races. A new study published recently shed some light on how good triathletes are at handling pain.

Researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel studied a group of Ironman triathlon (swim 3.8km, bike 180km and run 42.195km--yes they go through a lot of pain) triathletes and another group (who swam, ran and did other sports but do not compete in races).

Both groups of participants went through a battery of tests including one that involved applying a heating device to one arm while the other arm was submerged in cold water. In addition the participants also had to answer a questionnaire on pain perception, stress perception and fear of pain.

Compared to the other group, the triathletes displayed greater pain tolerance during the tests. They rated lower pain intensity on the pain scale and tolerated pain longer allowing the researchers concluding that triathletes can perform at high levels because they feel less pain compared to casual exercisers. What the researchers cannot decide is whether triathletes compete in triathlons because they feel less pain or they feel less pain because they train for and compete in triathlons.

My personal experience suggests the latter. Cumulative effects of hard workouts does blunt the body and mind to pain. It makes you more willing to put up with pain and tough it out until you cross the finish line.

Geva N and Defrin R (2013). Enhanced Pain Modulation Among Triathletes: A Possible Explanation For Their Exceptional Capabilities. J Int Assoc for study of Pain. doi : 10.1016/j.pain.2013.06.031

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Beards Keep You Young, Healthy And Handsome

2002 Sprint World Champion Sean Eadie
Have you thrown away your razor yet? Here's why you may wanna consider tossing your razor in the trash can and how beards can be useful other than in the looks department (as some women like men with beards).

Researchers have found that men with beards and moustaches actually enjoy numerous benefits. In a study from Queensland Australia, researchers found that beards block 90-95 per cent of UV rays, thereby slowing the ageing process and reducing your risk of skin cancer. Better still if you have asthma. Pollen and dust will get caught in that bunch of facial hair of yours, lessening your chance of an attack.

Moisture is also retained by the hair keeping you young and fresh faced (probably less in Singapore since it's already so humid, but definitely in Australia).

Down side of course is that beards can spread infection if you don't look after it and it can make eating some meals real messy.
Sean Eadie with his gold medal

Paris AV, Turnbull DJ and Smith D. (2012). Dosimetric Investigation of the Solar Erythemal UV radiation Protection Provided By Berads and Moustaches. Radia Prot Dosimetry. 150 (3): p 278-282. doi: 10.1093/rpd/ncr418

*Picture from by Rochelle Gilmore