How to stave off Achilles Tendonitis? (Read 189 times)

Intentionally Blank

    Hey y'all.  Lately I've noticed that when I get out of bed in the morning, my left heel/Achilles feels stiff.  It usually goes away when I've been up and walking  around a few minutes.


    For the past 2-3 days, I've noticed it when running.  Not pain, but *noticing* it, meaning, slight discomfort.  Just a steady feeling through the course of the run, and then it feels better when I am sitting or walking around.  It occasionally feels mildly stiff when I stand up after sitting for a long time.


    I've been running for 12-13years, and have had one injury in that time that kept me off running for 10 days.  I try to get a jump on aches and pains early, partly because I'm a wimp and partly because I don't want to make them worse.


    So, what should I be doing to protect my Achilles?  I don't stretch; should I start?  Do I have to run less if I feel discomfort but not pain?  Does it matter if I run easy or hard?  I don't run a lot of mileage, but I do run every day, and I'm about to turn 40, if that makes a difference.


    Thanks in advance.

      I've been running for 12-13years, and have had one injury in that time that kept me off running for 10 days. 


      That's an enviable record!


      Eccentric calf drops will do wonders here.



        That's an enviable record!


        Eccentric calf drops will do wonders here.


        +1. Works(ed) great for my recovery.

        "He conquers who endures" - Persius
        "Every workout should have a purpose. Every purpose should link back to achieving a training objective." - Spaniel


        Intentionally Blank

          Just googled them.  Will do.  Thanks!

            I do 70 each leg after every run. Started with two-leg drops, built up to where 100 was easy, switched to single leg. Maybe overkill. Also I may be doing them faster than some people recommend. But this is what my training group leader (2:17 marathoner) advised a few years ago.


            I have to say, I have been having left Achilles problems off and on for the past couple of years. When I happened to be getting my hamstring tendons ultrasounded, I had the doc take a look at the left Achilles on ultrasound while he was at it. The tendon itself is fine, but the synovial membrane is inflamed -- "tenosyovitis". I don't think the eccentric drops do much here. Fortunately it's not limiting anything at present.


              Thanks for the recommendation. My left achilles is often my downfall as well. I'll add this into my running routine and see if it helps as I add mileage.

              No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.

                Eccentric calf drops also strengthen the calves. I used to have problems with calves cramping late in races, no more.

                pedaling fool

                  It does make you wonder why now? You've been running for well over a decade and now you're feeling stiffness?


                  It kind of reminds me of a couple years ago when I got shen splints all of a sudden at a time when I thought I was finally immuned to them. However, I was able to identify a cause -- I started running on soft sand; my lower legs/feet just were not prepared for all the dynamic forces imparted from the various positions my foot was forced to take. That's why I'm a fan of mixing it up now, because consistency in training develop strength, but it also develops weakness when you deviate. So the fix is to deviate.


                  However, another consideration is, simply ageing. Running only works your body in one way, so certain parts get worked really well (sometimes overworked, i.e. overuse injuries) and other parts get underused and the ageing process will eventually show those weaknesses.


                  That's why I like to do multiple activities, but you only have so much time (I do have a life), so my fallback activity is weightlifting; everything gets worked. I've heard other cyclists/runners claim that they don't need to work their lower body in the gym, because it gets enough workout on the bike/run. I disagree with that approach. If that were true than why is it that stength training exercises are a major part of rehab?

                    I had one solitary bout of Achilles Tendonitis more than years ago now, I had phantom pains and stiffness for a year or two after, but it's never come back. In my case I trace the injury to a specific trauma (dancing all night at a wedding in dress shoes then going for a medium long marathon paced run in cold weather the next morning).


                    The eccentric calf drops that bhearn mentioned should work for the specific injury.


                    However if you can't pinpoint what caused it, you may want to consider whether something about your form has changed over the years and you've developed any bad habits.


                    My only other running injury in the last 15 years was a bout of high hamstring tendinitis that I struggled with for about a year including almost all of 2013. It took a while to figure out but at the end of the day I had developed some form/posture issues over the course of years caused by tight hip flexors. It was causing me to overstride just a little bit--not enough that I was heel striking, or that it was obvious to the casual observer, but enough to develop an overuse injury after many many years of pain free running. I know I sound like a broken record and I wish I was on commission for this book, but I highly recommend Anatomy for Runners by Jay Dicharry.

                    Runners run.


                      I'm familiar with the heel drops, both with the straight and bent leg, but what are calf drops?  When I Google it, I only get more info about heel drops.

                        Same thing.


                          Wear supportive shoes always, a night splint when you sleep.  Honestly - and I'm crazy about running through stuff (stupidly, most of the time), I'd say back off the running for a week. If you aren't training and don't mind doing that, it's so worth it if you can catch this early and get rid of it because AT = total, complete suckage.  Anyway, mainly, I would focus on getting the knots/tightness out of your calves, which can be a huge chore once you are actually to the point where you are feeling Achilles tightness or pain (it's just harder to snuff out those trigger points at that point).   When the calves are loose, they aren't pulling on the Achilles anymore and you'll feel a crap ton better.  If you can't roll 'em out, get them dry needled (I had Graston done too on my calves and my Achilles for weeks and weeks, but it didn't help all that much in that regard).


                          The needling was the single best thing I did to squash my AT once and for all and the one thing I noticed results from within a few days (at the same time, I got a script for Prednisone for the inflammation from my podiatrist, but it sounds like my AT was a lot further along than yours).  I did the eccentric exercises and calf stretches religiously, was in PT since word GO (iontophoresis, all that...), but dry needling + Prednisone was the only thing I can say worked like a charm (I only had to go twice). My PT charges $65 to have it done - it's cheaper than a massage and worked really well for me.


                          Oh, and I should say that after 6 weeks of eccentric exercises, I went to get dry needled and that PT - a new one - had me stop the eccentric junk + the stretching (just to change it up - I wasn't getting any better).  Anyway, I was better within a week or two.  It was crazy.  Now maybe it had run it's course - that might have been a factor too - but this is just my experience.


                          Good luck!

                          Little Blue

                            Do you have new shoes?  I got tendinitis in my ankle when I got new shoes.  They were the same model, but the next generaltion (5's, after wearing 3's for a while.)  Bam, pain within a few runs.  The shoe rep swore up and down that they didn't change anything (so why the new model?), but when I ditched them for something else, the pain went away and never came back.

                            Intentionally Blank

                              It's hard to even pinpoint the variables in order to guess what's changed.  As far as shoes, I've always just run in whatever was on sale at Dick's, whatever the running store suggested, whatever blown out shoes I found in the back of my closet.  I used to think I had super low maintenance feet.  I run barefoot occasionally just because.


                              I guess now that I am getting older, I need to start being more careful. Sad

                              Running Chick

                                i have horrendously stiff ankles.  (since childhood injury).  but also, have run for 40+ years now - on stiff ankles.  (i know, not a good idea).  but the things i try to do that help - heated yoga, and/or heel drops on your stairs.  for me, anything that gives me a little flexiblity in feet/ankles/calf muscles helps to keep me running.  .