Tips for dealing with Achilles tendonitis

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No runner wants to experience pain when out for their daily run. With slow improvements of distance and speeds, they live for the chance to break a personal record. Unfortunately, that success can be greatly delayed by injury or simple pain in the legs. One very common injury is Achilles tendonitis. This can set even the most practiced runner back weeks in a training regimen. If you happen to find yourself succumbing to this issue, there are ways you can speed up the recovery process and prepare yourself to prevent it happening again.

If you do suspect yourself of the injury, stop all training and consult a doctor for proper diagnosis, and to ensure you don’t have any other related fractures or tears.

What is Achilles tendonitis?

The Achilles tendon is attached at the back of the heel bone and stretches to connect to the two larger calf muscles, the gastrocnemius and the soleus. When you are running, this tendon can become strained and tighten as a result. With stress, it inflames, which is the typical description of Achilles tendonitis. If you continue to run on the inflamed tendon it will then produce scar tissue, making the ankle even less flexible and more susceptible to tear or rupture. If you happen to have this, you will experience pain at the area of the tendon, near the heel. If your tolerance for pain happens to be high, or you are unable to discern what area of your ankle hurts, test for flexibility. If the calf happens to be red or warm, or even if there is a nodule of scar tissue in the area, you may have tendonitis.

Injury treatment

Typical treatment of an injured tendon requires rest at a minimum. You should stop all runs for the foreseeable time ahead until you are well enough to return. In the immediate future, take an ibuprofen to reduce inflammation and ice the area. Self-massage is also very helpful at the time. You should be able to feel a small nodule at the back of your calf, and it is wise to carefully massage the area until is subsides. Continue to rest your leg, stretching it throughout the day. Simple stair stretches should suffice, but it is also wise to stretch the foot with your hand when applying self-massage.

Once you are able to do toe raises without pain, you can return to running, but take it easy. Treat both legs gently, massaging them after all runs or workouts. Consider using a portable massager like the Moji 360 massager, that way you can consistently give your legs quality massage while both at home and on the road.

If it is too difficult for you to sit by and not exercise during this time, consider other forms of working out that won’t directly impact your Achilles tendon. A few options include swimming, bicycling and running in a pool. Avoid any exercise that forces you to put weight on your calves. Make sure that when partaking in any other exercise, you will still need to warm up and stretch before the workout as well as stretch afterwards. Follow that stretching with a some massage of the Achilles tendon.

To prevent this injury from happening again, keep a close watch on your running form and intensity. Achilles tendonitis is often a result of overtraining, a highly pronated step, or even inflexible of weak calf muscles. Be sure to incrementally increase your running distance and times, as well as properly massage and stretch your legs both before and after training. If you find your Achilles to continue to pain you, stop running and rest.

Jill Lohmann is a Director of Operations for Accelerated Rehabilitation Centers and a certified physical therapist. Accelerated Rehabilitation Centers is a physical therapist owned and operated rehabilitation company with a network of 170 outpatient rehabilitation centers located throughout the Midwest, Arizona and Georgia.

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