How to Avoid Overuse of the Achilles Tendon in Sports and Ballet |

Tendinitis is all too-prevalent in dance injuries and sports injuries. In fact, when someone says “I have tendinitis” it usually refers to the Achilles tendon, without being explained, it is that common. Inflammation, or “itis” can occur in any area of the body.The Achilles tendon comes from the lower end of the calf muscles, and inserts, or is attached, to the heel bone. The calf muscles above, and the intrinsic foot muscles below, are supposed to do all the actual work in moving the foot flexed, or extended (pointed, in ballet).If the foot can flex and stretch without changing its angle (curving outward, or sickling out in ballet, or curving inward, sickling in or ‘pigeon toes’), in most cases the tendon will not get irritated.This is presuming that when you are standing on an even surface, the foot is not sloping inward, what people think of as “fallen arches”, or is not sloping outward toward the little toe edge of the foot.Runners and other athletes often work on uneven surfaces and depend on both strength and supportive shoes to minimize the variation in foot angle as it strikes the ground or pushes off. Ballet dancers absolutely depend on foot strength to prevent misuse, as they do not generally wear supports in their ballet shoes and pointe shoes. If needed, however, orthotics, or foot levelers, can be worn in dance shoes.If a dancer or athlete has bowed legs, or hyper-extended legs, there will be an angle created just to have the feet flat on the floor. If this situation is understood, the student can be taught how to avoid inflammation of the Achilles tendon through understanding, and correction of, or accurate compensation for, this particular anatomical detail.Correcting the stance of hyper-extended legs by stacking the skeletal joints (ankles, knees, hips and on up) and holding turnout, will correct the natural pronation (fallen arches) of the feet on the floor. Sometimes this is not even visible to a glance in dancers, due to a strong built-up muscle structure that is deceptive. Even chiropractors and physio therapists have to test dancers’ muscles extensively, in order not to miss this observation, until they gain experience with it.As more and more athletes are studying ballet principles of turnout and footwork to gain an extra advantage in their performance, and prevent sports injuries, hopefully the area of hyper-extension will also be addressed.Bowed legs require an angle of the foot, for it to be flat on the floor. In ballet, correct use of turnout, developing the intrinsic foot muscles, and always having the body weight placed correctly on the feet (hyper-extension and bowed legs tend to throw the weight back) minimizes the overuse and irritation of the Achilles tendon.Both ballet dancers and athletes need the understanding that poorly developed foot muscles lead to exhausting the calf muscles. This in turn creates tension, loss of muscle tone and strength, and the Achilles tendon develops tendinitis.Once inflammation has set in, rest, and icing must be applied. A courageous patience is needed in recovery, as the pressure to stay in the daily competitive drive for a an upcoming exam, performance or team try-out, must be resisted. You long term persistence in your chosen field depends on avoiding a chronic situation.Ballet, dance, and sports injuries can be prevented. If you are a pre-pro, a would-be ballerina, a dedicated recreational dancer or athlete, study all you can about how to avoid overuse and injury of your Achilles tendon.

Athletes Need to Train For Power, Strength, Speed and Agility to Develop a Competitive Edge |

Competitive athletes can improve their performance by focusing on the four conditioning goals of athleticism.Athleticism is a general term used to describe exercises and games requiring physical skills. The components of athleticism can be broken down into four basic conditioning goals:*Strength
*AgilityAs an athlete it is crucial to understand the importance of each, and how each component relates to the others. Having been involved as a competitive athlete and now an active coach for over four decades, I can see that each of these four basic components is essential to optimal performance on the field.It has been said in training circles, that there are three topics which will spawn an instant debate. Politics, Religion, and Training techniques. American strength coaches and exercise researchers often work independently and often in direct competition with one another. There are different “camps” of training methods, each working in direct competition. I have witnessed extremely heated debates between coaches from differing camps. There are a number of Internet forums that are defenders of the ultimate training program. In the U.S., researchers seek publications and compete for grants, often keeping their data and ideas to themselves for fear that another lab will publish similar studies. There is often a sense of competition between coaches and researchers in the US rather than cooperation.Watch an NFL football game, and then ask yourself some questions. Which team used only free weights? Which team used only machines? Which team followed training methods from the “HIT” camp? Which team used only Olympic- Lifts? Which team followed “Power lifting” protocols? Can you tell just by watching the game? Does it matter? What I see are individuals who display some great “athleticism”. They obviously have trained the four basic components at some time during their athletic career. If competitive athletes want an extended professional career they better pay close attention to the components of “strength, power, speed, and agility.So which training program do they use? Which one is the absolute best? What do you the aspiring athlete want to use? This is what I have learned after four decades of training. Are you ready for the best kept secret in the world of strength and conditioning? OK, here goes…THEY ALL WORK !!!! I know, “you can’t handle the truth”.Why did the old USSR/Eastern Europeans dominate world arenas in Olympic sports, especially in strength-power type event? Because Soviet coaches worked together with the exercise scientists to field test and apply their theories. There was no “gap” between the scientists and the coaches as there is in America. In addition, the Soviets were firm believers in coaching athletes to learn basic movements prior to teaching them complicated sport-specific skills.Competitive Athletes need to train for the big four: Strength, Power, Speed, and Agility. Master these areas and you will have an edge over your opponents.

The Bench Strength of Your Organization |

The Toronto sports teams seem to be fighting for position whether it is to get into the playoffs; establish a position in a league; or just start off a season with a winning record. They all have one factor in mind, their “bench strength”.So just what do they mean when they talk about having good bench strength? Clearly it is their ability to get the job done if the regulars are unable to perform for any one of a variety of reasons. Sounds reasonable when you think of the Maple Leafs, the Raptors; the Blue Jays or the Toronto Rock, right?But, what does have to do with you? You do not own or manage a professional sports team. Rather you operate a business that is doing it’s best to both grow and be profitable. Well, folks, the truth is that if you don’t consider your bench strength you could also finish out of the running. Your company could very well end up as a failed business statistic.What exactly is bench strength in terms of a business? Consider what it is you do. Perhaps you produce a product. Perhaps you perform a service. Either way, you make use of a very valuable asset, human resources to achieve your desired results.Those very human resources are the reason you are able to do what it is that you do. You have spent time recruiting the right people with the right skills. You have established procedures that allow them to apply that skill and knowledge in the right way at the right time to the right process.Now consider what your position would be if you did not have that particular resource available to you for a specific period of time. We need only to look to labour disputes to see evidence of the impact that can have on a company. The result can be economic disaster for an organization.If you exclude labour disputes as the cause of the loss of the resource, there are several specific things you can do that will help build your bench strength.a) you can clearly define your processes, ensuring they are documented and avoid duplication
b) you can clearly identify resources that have the attributes and attitude to take over for missing staff members
c) you can provide a specific and properly coordinated Train The Trainer program to develop individuals to be able to step in for missing staff membersEach of the three items mentioned above may require a change in how you do business today but they can also mean that you will still be able to do business tomorrow. Have you measured your organization’s bench strength lately? If not, what are you doing about it? If you find it lacking, do you have a resource development plan in place to increase your bench strength?