Runners are incredibly susceptible to developing what is called Achilles tendonitis. This is because the tendon has to absorb several times your body weight with each stride. Thus every step that you take as you run, you place a huge amount of stress on this tendon. Is it any wonder why it is such a vulnerable trouble spot?
The Achilles tendon is important in that it connects the heel to three powerful muscles in the body: the heads of the gastrocnemius muscle (the calf muscles) and the soleus muscle.
Place your hand behind your ankle and feel the tendon on the back of the leg.
The gastrocnemius muscle is significant because it crosses three joints: the ankle, knee and subtalar joint. If these joints aren’t functioning well the Achilles tendon will be affected and the tension on it will be increased.
This tendon is always undergoing tears but usually can heal itself quickly. It is when it is placed under too much stress and not given enough time to rest that problems occur.
When the tendon has a tear that it can’t repair fast enough it undergoes inflammation. The inflammation usually occurs at the narrowest part of the tendon (located on the back of the foot down by the ankle). This inflammation is due to expanding fluid around the tendon.
If the Achilles tendon is already weak and is placed under additional stress the tendon can completely tear which is a serious and very painful injury. If you can’t raise up on your toes when you are standing then you probably have a tear in the tendon. You can also usually feel the tear as there will be a lump around the back of your ankle and maybe a gap which you can feel through the skin.
For acute Achilles Injury:Apply ice on the tendon. It is a good idea to ice the Achilles tendon area at least 2-3 times a day for about 10 minutes each.
For a chronic Achilles Injury:
I would strongly, strongly encourage you to re-evaluate your running shoes. There is a very high chance that just switching to a pair of minimal running shoes is all you need. Here are all the reasons why.
If you are suffering from a sever Achilles tear you will probably most certainly want to see a doctor. Also take off at least 4-6 weeks of running.
If you don’t treat Achilles tendonitis correctly and immediately you will find yourself wishing you had when you are forced to take a long break from running.
Here are some ways to effectively treat Achilles tendonitis:
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Lorimer AV, Hume PA. Achilles tendon injury risk factors associated with running. Sports Med. 2014 Oct;44(10):1459-72. doi: 10.1007/s40279-014-0209-3. PubMed PMID: 24898814.