Competitors have been looking for Tiger Woods’ Achilles Heel for over a decade. They have now found it.
His weakness is actually his own Achilles. Perhaps the Greeks will rename Achilles to ‘Tiger’.
Just this past Sunday during the final round of the World Golf Championships – Cadillac Championship, Tiger Woods hit a monster 321 drive right down the middle of the fairway. Classic Tiger all the way.
He then proceeds to limp off the tee box.
Tiger then withdrew and caught a ride to his beautiful Mercedes in a golf cart.
After pulling out, Woods issued a statement that he “felt tightness in my left Achilles warming up this morning, and it continued to get progressively worse. After hitting my tee shot at 12, I decided it was necessary to withdraw. In the past, I may have tried to continue to play, but this time, I decided to do what I thought was necessary.”
The news media went nuts and even followed him home by helicopter. Twitter was on fire.
Tiger let us know through Twitter that he would be returning to hitting balls at the end of this week and then who knows on his return.
This nagging left Achilles injury isn’t anything new to Tiger fans. He withdrew from THE PLAYERS after nine holes just last year. And before that, he injured the Achilles during the Masters hitting out of slippery pine needles. However, it keeps returning even tough Tiger has access to the best Doctors and Physical Trainers in the World.
So what gives?
Why is Tiger having this nagging injury? What can be done about it? How did it occur?
Some claim the people surrounding Tiger aren’t giving him the proper diagnosis.
For the answers we went to an expert in athletic injuries, Rick Kaselj. Rick is an Kinesiologist, College Professor, Injury Prevention specialist, and Injury expert.
Rick Kaselj is a personal trainer in Vancouver, Canada that specializes in designing exercise programs for clients recovering from injuries. Rick has trained thousands of clients and completed his Master’s of Science degree focusing on injury recovery and exercise. Rick shares with other fitness professionals and exercise enthusiasts, the exercises he uses to prevent Achilles Tendinitis and Achilles Tendinosis in his Achilles Tendinitis Exercise Solution Program.
Who else better to ask about Tiger and his nagging injuries?
Q: Tiger and his Doctors claim that this is tightness and all that it requires is a little rest to heal. What causes tightness in the Achilles?
R: Lets start off with what Tiger has.
If the injury just happened, one would call it an Achilles tendinitis. What Achilles tendinitis is, is an inflammation of the Achilles tendon. Since his injury has lingering on for so long, it has progressed to an Achilles tendinosis. What Achilles tendinosis is, is a change in the quality of the Achilles tendon.
Okay, I hope I did not lose you.
We will get back to what to do about Achilles tendinosis.
Lets go back to how Tiger got it.
He has had four surgeries on his left knee. These surgeries have lead to his Achilles injury.
Let me explain how.
The body is a beautiful adaptation machine. When one area is not working properly, another area picks up the slack. The area working harder is okay with this for a little while but a point is reach when it can’t do it any more and you get injured. This is the case for Tiger.
With his knee surgeries, his knees are not able to work properly, specifically straighten out when he is walking or subconsciously bends in order to avoid pain when walking. This leads to his foot having to work harder to push his body and foot forward when he walks. This extra push comes from the calf and Achilles tendon.
This is fine for a little while but eventual the Achilles tendon cannot handle it any more and it gets injured.
Q: Some trainers I have spoken to think Tiger is overdoing not just golf, but his training. What are your thoughts on the golf swing, training, and how they can potentially cause an overuse injury in the Achilles?
R: Lets be honest, Tiger is not playing well.
I think everyone can relate. If you have a level of golf skill that you are use to and you start losing it, you look for anything to get it back.
I think Tiger is doing everything he can to get it back. What everything means is, he is trying all kinds of new things to get himself back on track.
I think, he should go back and look at what led to his success in the past and work on replicating it, instead of trying to reinvent himself.
When it comes to training, I think he needs to work on his recovery.
Let me explain.
Look back at your life. In our twenties, we could do whatever we wanted and be fine the next day. We could play 3 rounds of golf in one day, then have a great time at the 19th hole and be fine the next day.
Things change when you get into your thirties and forties. You need to help your body recover between things. You need to be smarter with what you do. You need to rest between things. You need to invest more in your recovery between things. I don’t think Tiger is doing this.
Q: Tiger recently began playing with flat golf shoes, all the rage in running and training. Aren’t these supposed to help the Achilles and reduce the risk of Achilles tightness?
R: No, this put greater stress on the Achilles tendon.
If you have an injury, the muscles around the injury will shorten up.
If you wear shoes with a heel, this shortens up your Achilles tendon, even more.
Then if you go to shoes with flat shoes, it puts greater stretch on the Achilles tendon, which can lead to irritation of the Achilles tendon. This is what has happened to Tiger.
Q: What can our readers do in their training programs and daily life to reduce the risk of Achilles injury?
R: There is a lot that readers can do for their Achilles tendinitis and tendinosis.
#1 – Work on your Ankle Range of Motion
Many times based on the shoes we wear and what we do with our ankles, we lose ankle of motion in our ankles. This decrease range of motion and puts greater stress on the Achilles tendon.
You can do this by sitting on the floor with no shoes on and moving your ankles. Start by pointing your toes away from you and then moving them back so they are pointing at your. Do this for 10 to 20 repetitions.
#2 – Poor Calf Strength
We all think our calves are strong but strength in the calf depends on what range of motion the ankle is at. You can test this by walking around on your toes for a few minutes. When you walk on your toes, you are working a different range of motion of your calf muscle. You can feel how much harder this is but most sprinters run only on their toes.
This can be done very easily. In standing, just come onto your toes. When this is easy, move to doing this on one leg at a time. It is best to do this with no shoes on. Do 10 repetitions, 2 to 3 times a day.
#3 – Your Feet Flatten Too Much
Most of us run to get orthotics when we hear that our feet flatten too much.
Many times the quick fix is doing some foot exercises. The best ones to do is in sitting and then in stranding, to grab a towel with your toes and pull the towel towards you. This will increase the bodies’ awareness in the feet and strengthen the muscles in your feet so you have better control of your feet.
Thanks Rick for the diagnosis! I personally hope this is just a minor setback and he will be ready to go at the Masters in April.
If you have an Achilles injury, Rick has a solution for you, be sure to check out his Achilles Tendonitis product – www.achillestendinitisexercises.com
Look for more from Rick on golf injuries in the coming weeks and months this season.