Saturday, February 28, 2015

Gotta Love Hills

Now those were some hills we ran in Hong Kong during the Trailwalker
I love the hills when running cross country as a kid in school. Probably because I didn't weigh that much then, so I could often accelerate up the slopes at Macritchie reservoir (yes during my time, all the schools cross country races were all held there and not Bedok reservoir). That means I could either break up the pack of runners in our group or hang in there when the going got tough.

Well, now it looks like you (the runner) should run more hills since correct practise makes perfect.

What's more, recent published evidence suggest that both up and downhill running does not seem to harm your Achilles tendon as some believe. It was previously assumed that the forces exerted on your Achilles tendon during downhill running could stretch it further leading to possible long term injury.

The Achilles tendon stretches naturally on every run. It stores elastic energy to reduce the load on your calf muscles especially. It is believed that this constant stretching leads to micro damage in the tendon, especially running downhill.

This was proved wrong after researchers (who used high speed cameras and Doppler ultrasound) proved that the Achilles maintained the same thickness during flat, up and downhill runs.
A word of caution before you attack the hills. The study was done on a group of well trained runners and this may be one of the reasons why the Achilles tendons adapted well to the different inclines.

If you are a fairly new runner and have not done many miles, do add hill running gradually to give your Achilles tendon time to adapt.


Neves KA, Johnson AW e al (2014). Does Achilles Tendon Cross Sectional Area Differ After Downhill, Level And Uphill Running In Trained Runners? J Sports Sci Med. 13: 823-828

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