That chronic Achilles pain could very well be tendinitis

Fitness Q & A

Health & Fitness

January 25, 2004|By Gailor Large | Gailor Large,Special to the Sun

What causes Achilles tendinitis, and how do I know if I have it?

If you're a runner (or play a sport that involves significant running) and have chronic Achilles pain, there is a good chance it is tendinitis. Tight calf muscles, poor running biomechanics and bad footwear are likely to blame. Properly fitted shoes and orthotics (if necessary) should correct any biomechanics problems like over-pronation. To be fitted for the right shoes, visit a specialty running shop. Also be sure to stretch your calves, particularly after exercise when your muscles are warm.

How much should I eat before a workout? My friend barely eats before we exercise, but when I try it, I have no energy.

A common rule of thumb among health experts is this: For every two pounds of body weight, eat one gram of carbohydrates before exercise. For instance, if you weigh 160 pounds, aim for 80 grams of carbs.

If this works for you, great, but it's important to remember that no two athletes -- and no two workouts -- are the same. Experiment until you discover what works best for you.

Be sure to eat quality carbohydrates like bananas or oatmeal (real, not instant). They will fuel your workout without causing a glycemic spike and drop. You may also want to add some protein like milk or peanut butter. The longer and more intense your workout, the more time you should leave between eating and exercising.

Why is my lower back so sore after using the calf raise machine at the gym? Other workouts that seem harder -- running and squats -- don't bother my back nearly as much.

Try decreasing the weight. While you bear only your own body weight when you run, squats and calf raises put substantial pressure on your joints and back.

Calf raises can be particularly hard on the back. Most weight-lifters can handle substantial weight during this exercise because they only have to lift the weight a short distance. But it can put a lot of strain on the back. The next time you're on the calf raise machine, have a trainer check your form to make sure it's correct. Then, if decreasing the weight doesn't help, use the seated calf raise machine instead.

Do you have a fitness question? Write to Fitness, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278. You can also fax questions to 410-783-2519 or e-mail fitness @baltsun.com.

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