Achilles tendonitis is an injury that is common amongst runners. It occurs when the Achilles tendon gets inflamed or irritated. Often, the onset is gradual, with symptoms worsening over time. The Achilles tendon is the band of tissue that connects the muscles in the back of your calf with your heel bone.
You may experience pain and stiffness when you first stand up in the morning, which may decrease as you move about and stretch. After running, the pain may get much worse. In addition, you may hear a crackling sound from your Achilles tendon when you move.
What Causes Achilles Tendonitis?
Achilles tendonitis is often caused by overtraining. Putting too much stress on your Achilles tendon, especially too much stress too quickly, causes inflammation to develop. When you exercise, your Achilles tendon can develop tiny tears.
Overtraining causes those little tears to get inflamed instead of repairing themselves normally. Running on hills can also contribute to the development of Achilles tendonitis. Your style of gait can be a factor, as well.
If you flatten the arch of your foot when you run, you put extra strain on the Achilles tendon, which increases the odds of developing tendonitis there.
How Can I Prevent Achilles Tendonitis?
For runners, the prevention of Achilles tendonitis is key. When you are beginning a new training regiment, be cautious. Be sure to stretch before and after running, whether you are starting a new routine or run every day. Increase your distance slowly – no more than 10% per week.
Do exercises like toe raises to strengthen your calf muscles. It is also a good idea to include some low impact cross training exercises to build your strength, like swimming or cycling. These things are gentler on your body.
In addition, be sure that you are wearing proper footwear. You may consider having a gait analysis performed to see if your gait is contributing to the problem. You should wear shoes that provide plenty of support. Heel lifts can be worn in the shoes, and they are often helpful for those who suffer from Achilles tendonitis.
Treatment for Achilles Tendonitis
As soon as you notice pain, employ the RICE method. If you are unfamiliar with this method, check out the details below.
- Rest – Pain is often an indication that your body needs to rest. Take a few days off from training so that your body has a chance to heal.
- Ice – Apply an ice pack to the spot that hurts. Do this every four to six hours, and leave it on there for about 20 minutes. Start doing this as soon as you feel pain. If you are running on an injury, ice the spot as soon as you finish running. Don’t apply heat until after the inflammation is gone, which usually takes a few days. Then you can alternate between heat and ice.
- Compression – Using compression helps to limit swelling. Wrap the Achilles tendon with a sports bandage, but don’t make it so tight that it throbs.
- Elevate – Elevate the Achilles tendon. Lie on the couch with your foot and calf propped up on some pillows or on the arm of the couch. Aim to get your foot up higher than your heart.
If you are suffering from Achilles tendonitis, visit Foot Solutions UK. We can perform gait analysis, recommend proper shoes, and fit you with custom arch supports (orthotic inserts) or heel lifts to help relieve your pain. An injury doesn’t mean that you have to give up running. See the experts at Foot Solutions UK, and we’ll help you cope with your injury and get back to training.