BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE
Isometric exercise has become increasing popular to reduce pain in tendinopathy following Ebonie Rio's exciting research. Her study showed an impressive and immediate reduction in pain with isometrics for patella tendinopathy, and later work showed this to be effective in-season for volleyball and basketball players. Despite this, research in other sites of tendinopathy is lacking or has shown different results which might question the growing use of isometrics clinically. In this study Seth O'Neill and colleagues sought to clarify the role of isometrics in achilles pain by testing the approach used by Rio et al. (2015) in achilles tendinopathy.
16 subjects with achilles tendinopathy participated in the study. Pre-intervention, pain was assessed during a functional task that loads the achilles tendon - bilateral calf raises, single leg calf raises or hopping. Mechanical pain sensitivity, motor output and peak plantar flexion torque were also measured. Heavy isometric plantar flexion (at 70% of maximal voluntary contraction) was performed for 45 seconds, with 5 repetitions separated by 2-minute rest periods. The above tests were then repeated post-intervention.
A varied response was seen during a functional task with some subjects reporting an increase in pain and some a small decrease. The mean self-reported pain was 4.2 (out of 10) before isometrics and 4.9 after. This contrasts markedly from