Below yoga sequence should be used as a guide by yoga teachers to create their own yoga class plans
Yoga To Treat Achilles Tendonitis: Yoga for Achilles Tendonitis
Usually, Achilles Tendinopathy is the term used to define both inflammation and micro-tears of the Achilles tendons. Achilles Tendonitis is related to the inflammation or injury of the Achilles tendon due to repetitive actions like flexing the ankles and the tendons close to the ankles; which are commonly seen in athletes, gymnasts or jumpers. These tendons are just hard fibres that connect muscles and bones, mainly at the joints. When overexerted and over-flexed, they begin to tear and stretch deeper than required, thus causing injury. This tear happens when there is repetitive movement of the tendons, most likely to happen to athletes or in the case of to an accident. Hence, making sure to stretch before any kind of athletic practice is very essential. The same needs to be done to cool down after every practice.
The Achilles Tendon is attached to the calf muscles as well as the heel bone. If injured tendons are not taken care of properly while they heal, the chances of injuring them again is very high. These tissues have a different function altogether and an injury to them will stop mobility of the foot and the leg. With yoga, you can restore calf muscle strength; build power and stability by flexing of the ankles and the foot; gain confidence by stretching of the entire body with breath awareness and ensure the non-injured leg is pampered in order to help you get back to your sport without pain or stress.
The yoga sequence for Achilles Tendon here is for those who have completed 6 weeks of rest post-injury, but are still in a cast. The poses are very carefully chosen, keeping in mind the maximum use of the hip muscles, the quadricep muscles, the hamstrings and the deeper muscles of the legs.
Athletes may also find the following yoga sequences helpful which can keep them safe from injuries:
Important: This yoga sequence is not to be done if one is fresh from the injury. If in a cast, then the poses can be done with the help of an experienced yoga instructor, post taking a medical practitioner’s advice.
Yoga To Treat Achilles Tendonitis: Yoga for Achilles Tendonitis: Yoga Poses, Cues, Steps, and Breathing instructions
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A. After the practice of both Anantasana and the variation, release and relax taking a few breaths.
B. Inhale and while lying down on your left side, raise both the legs to about 30 degrees off the floor feeling the use of abdomen muscles here.
C. Inhale and go up and down the dynamic way with the movement of both the legs while still maintaining the balance of the body.
D. Continue this for about 8 times making sure the flexing does not bring further pain and uneasiness.
Awareness of the body along with the breath will help one recover and heal faster and better. The using of the abdominal muscles here will help keeping the lower back and the hip joint strong to support the entire leg with the tendon injury.
A. Release from Vishnuasana and come to lie down on your back in Savasana while the legs are bent for a few breaths.
B. Place a low chair / bench or few bolsters, behind you at the back of your head on the floor.
C. Inhale and slowly raising the injured leg first half way over your hips and then slowly with the other leg, take both the legs behind you to go into Halasana Variation.
D. Place the legs on the bench / bolsters behind you resting the toes completely and pushing the soles deeper with the stretch.
E. Make sure the bench/ bolsters/ chair is at hip level as the extended legs behind should not go beyond the hips downwards. If the support behind is higher , then the stretch of the soles will not be felt.
F. Remain here for about 5 breaths watching the movement of the legs and the toes, as the exhalation happens.
G. Inhale and bend the legs to release and repeat it again making sure the stretch is deeper this time. Place the support behind in such a way that only the toes rest on them and not the shins or the entire leg.
B. Holding the chair, inhale and exhale in a rhythmic fashion while going up and down towards the floor in Malasana.
C. With feet wide apart, stand in front of the chair and as you exhale go down to sit on your feet. Repeat this the dynamic way and watch for the stretch at the calves and the ankles.
D. Go for about 5 times in this movement. While coming down the entire foot should be placed on the floor while taking support of the chair in front of you.
If the tendon is healed completely, but you may want to keep the tendons flexible and active, then this pose can be done raising the foot and balancing on the toes as you go down, instead of the entire foot. The stretch at the ankles to the base of the spine is what should be felt while doing this variation.
A. Release from all four and come to sit again on the chair and relax taking a few breaths.
B. Take a ball (tennis ball or a therapeutic ball) and place it below the right foot. Begin to roll the ball which moving the foot in a slow steady way.
C. Using this ball and running your foot over it up and down for about 8 times will also help in keeping the Plantar Fasciitis away which can happen in runners.
D. Seated comfortably on the chair run the foot on the ball. Release to repeat with the other foot.
This pose or this exercise can be done standing in front of the wall while resting both the feet on the balls, placed below the foot
Going up and down on the balls will add additional strength to the achilles tendons of both the legs.
THIS SHOULD BE DONE BEFORE GOING TO BED, TO AVOID STIFFNESS AND PAIN WHEN YOU WAKE UP.
A. Stand to stan in front of the chair after the above practice with the tennis ball.
B. Placing the hands on the chair, inhale and go up and down on your toes raising and extending the entire torso.
C. Feel the stretch at the calves and at the soles while at the pose. Go up and down for about 10 times or more. The stretch at the soles of the feet will help in supporting the tendons and increase the blood circulation with the movement.
The other variation of the pose is to stand on the outer soles of the feet balancing on the last toe and then moving in a dynamic way in and out for about 10 to 20 times. One could do this one foot at a time.
If doing this pose is difficult with the Cast, then it can be done with the non injured foot.
THIS SHOULD BE DONE BEFORE GOING TO BED TO AVOID STIFFNESS AND PAIN WHEN YOU WAKE UP.
A. From the variation of Flamingo Pose, come to stand in front of the chair in Tadasana about 2 feet away taking a few breaths.
B. Inhale raise the right leg and place it on the chair in front of you extending it completely.
C. Exhale and bring the chest and the head forward reaching for the right knee in Ardha Hanumanasana Variation.
D. Keeping the arms interlocked behind you for support or holding the chair for support is as per your comfort.
E. Remain here holding the leg stretch out for about 5 breaths and feel the stretch at the hamstrings and the calves on the balancing leg.
F. Release and repeat with the other leg.
VARIATION AND MODIFICATION
In this pose, the variation is while resting the leg on the chair, the other leg can bend at the knee and one can go the dynamic way up and down to feel a deeper stretch at ankles.
8 times this can be done with each leg.
The other alternative here, is to take one foot forward in Open Heart Pose, and bend the knee to feel the stretch of the tendons of the back leg. Staying here again for about 4 breaths is good. Make sure the balance is firm and comfortable.
Ending the sequence to completely come to relax in Legs Up the Wall Pose with Bolster support.
SOME POINTS TO REMEMBER
-The idea of the sequence is not just to target the injured leg/ ankle or just the injury.
- Activating the muscles of the legs and the hips is a must and hence poses that may not actually bring stretch to the injured area will still heal the injury, keeping the rest of the muscles and the various tendons fit and strong while supporting the injured tendon.
- These poses should be done in a very systematic way, first to open the hips while lying down and then in seated poses and finally ending with standing. This will build strength with a lot of confidence and acceptance.
- Each pose should encourage the right kind of breathing to bring awareness and stay emotionally strong. Even if it is the injured leg that is in pain, the mind when calm helps the entire body to support the injury and hence healing would be faster.
- Movement of the ankles should be done only if the doctors have agreed and suggested it, If in a cast the above poses would be far easier as there will be less impact on the injured tendon.
- Making sure the above practice is done for almost 4 weeks or more and then slowly adding a lit more deep stretching standing poses for healing.
- Recovery is based on the flexibility of the athlete and the condition of the injury. A good 4-6 weeks would be required. During this time working on the rest of the body is essential as this will help the athlete to get back soon to running or any other sport after completely being cured with the injury.
Sleeping with legs elevated while supporting the calves, is considered to help in healing as the blood circulation works better this way too. Moving the toes often would also help to keep the tissues and tendons around the injured areas active and strong.