What’s a Spring Plate got to do with Achilles tendinitis? Quite a bit, actually. A Spring Plate changes the gait cycle enough to ‘unload’ the Achilles tendon during gait. Let’s take a little closer look.
The leg, the ankle and the foot act as a lever to deliver the force of the calf, distal through the ankle to the forefoot. During walking, the calf and Achilles tendon act to slow the forward progression of the body over the foot. As the lower leg and central body mass move forward, the calf resists that forward motion until the load applied to the forefoot becomes too great. At this stage of gait, called toe-off, the mass of the body applied against this lever becomes so great that the heel lifts off the ground and the body begins to fall forward. To arrest this forward fall we instinctually put out our other foot to break the fall and the process starts all over again with the opposite leg, ankle, and foot. In cases of chronic Achilles tendinitis, the longer the heel is on the ground, the greater the load applied to the tendon. More load to the tendon means chronic inflammation and delayed healing.
Spring Plates derive their names from the toe spring in the plate. When viewed from the side, the Spring Plate rises at the toes (toe spring). Toe spring contributes to ‘earlier’ heel-off in the gait cycle. Using a Spring Plate will decrease the time that the Achilles tendon is under load – hence the ability to heal chronic Achilles tendinitis.
How does a carbon graphite spring plate heal chronic Achilles tendinitis?
The forefoot rocker provided by the carbon graphite spring plates is a subtle change but in many cases sufficient enough to cure chronic Achilles tendinitis. Are there other ways to acquire toe spring? You can accomplish the same effect with Dansko clogs or shoes with a forefoot rocker like MBT’s or Hoka’s. The key is to have a forefoot rocker that will enable early heel rise during gait. If you aren’t interested in new shoes and want to use your existing shoes, the Spring Plate is the tool of choice. Or combine both a shoe with a forefoot rocker and a Spring Plate, and you’ll have an even more effective forefoot rocker.