Tightness in the calf muscles and the Achilles tendon is a condition that affects many people. This includes joggers, cyclists and other athletes who use their legs strenuously. It can also affect people who wear high heels or ill fitting shoes, those who stand a lot, and those who suddenly take up an aggressive running program after being inactive for a long time. But the condition is not confined to those who are active. People who suffer from blood deficiency, for example the elderly and women during menstruation are prone to tightening of the tendon during the night and so may wake up feeling sore in the calves.
Symptoms of Achilles tendon tightness include cramps, pain and stiffness along the tendon in the morning, pain along the tendon or the back of the heel that worsens with activity, severe pain the day after exercising, thickening of the tendon, bone spur at the heel, and swelling that is present all the time and gets worse throughout the day.
There is a great acupressure point that helps alleviate these symptoms, Bladder 57, Support the Mountain which is located in the middle of back of the lower leg. Sustained pressure here relaxes the Achilles tendon and all the calf muscles that attach to it. This in turn takes pressure off the heel bone where the tendon attaches.
The influence of Support the Mountain extends beyond the leg, for it is an excellent point for pain and stiffness in the lumbar region and for sciatica. When it is held together with Bladder 23 which we learned in an earlier post, the combination provides an excellent release of the low back. The point also treats haemorrhoids and rectal prolapse.
Did you know that the Achilles tendon is named after the Ancient Greek mythological hero whose mother dipped him in the River Styx to make him invulnerable? Unfortunately the heel by which she held him was not submerged and this remained a vulnerable place. During the Trojan War, Achilles suffered a small would to his heel and subsequently died. The term Achilles heel is now used to refer to a person’s weak spot.
So if calf pain is your Achilles heel, BL 57 Support the Mountain can come to your aid.
Location of Bladder 57
The point is located in the middle of back of the lower leg, half way between the crease at the back of the knee and the ankle. It lies in a depression between the heads of the gastrocnemius muscle. If you press the ball of your foot against resistance, this depression becomes more evident. Use firm pressure for two to three minutes or until you feel the Qi moving smoothly.