How to Deal with Achilles Pain
So you have been running a while and you are feeling strong, confident and ready to take on that huge race. In a moment of hazy runners high, you decide to add an extra night of hill training, increased speed work or you move your afternoon workouts to the morning.
Suddenly, there is a pain in the back of your leg by your heel – classic Achilles Tendonitis.
What is it?
Achilles tendinitis is characterized by dull or sharp pain anywhere along the back of the tendon, but usually close to the heel. Other signs you might have Achilles tendinitis include limited ankle flexibility, redness or heat over the painful area, a nodule (a lumpy buildup of scar tissue) that can be felt on the tendon, or a cracking sound (scar tissue rubbing against the tendon) when the ankle moves. Runners World
It is important to understand what running errors cause Achilles issues.
The most common cause is over use. Tendons often will not because injured until they are fatigued and tight. Common over use issues are caused by increased hills or speed work.
Lack of flexibility – This is caused by a build up over the tendon. This can be prevented by proper stretching.
Excessive overpronation – This means running with your toes landing inward. Runners with this stride are more susceptible as the achilles needs to work harder to compensate for the overpronation.
Shoes. I recently wrote this article on switching up your running shoes. If you cannot remember the last time you replaced them, it is time to go shoe shopping! Old or inflexible running shoes can cause the Achilles to twist and cause it to become injured.
Unfortunately, Achilles issues are one of the harder injuries to treat in runners.
When you feel that inconvenient pain, give yourself relative rest. Stop your activity for a week or a few months, depending on the level of degeneration. After the rest period, build your activity gradually.
Stretch Your Achilles.
Stand by a wall and get into a runners stretch. Bend your back knee to target the tendon and soleus and ensure that your knee is facing forward. Your body will try and track your knee to the side to avoid the pain; don’t let it happen! You can also stretch the achilles by strengthening the anterior tibialis, the small muscle group on the front of the lower leg, which is an opposing muscle group. Also, consider getting a massage. Because that is never a bad idea. 🙂
Strengthen your calves. Two words – calf raises.
Focus on lowering rather than raising and be sure to go all the way down to stretch out the tendon.
Ice! This will help reduce inflammation and swelling. If mine flares up, I normally apply ice after a run for about 15 – 20 minutes.
If all of this fails, see a doctor.
Wishing you a wonderful weekend full of injury free runs and happy tendons!
Have you suffered from Achilles pain before? If so, what did you do?