Running & Achilles Tendinitis


More than one of every 10 running injuries is said to relate to Achilles tendinitis, a strain of the large tendon that connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. It was once thought the injury was inflammatory in nature, but current thinking among many doctors and sports medicine experts is that Achilles tendinitis may have more to do with tissue degeneration than inflammation, which is why the condition is sometimes referred to as Achilles tendinopathy.


  1. Identification

  2. The Achilles tendon stretches when you contract your calf muscles to stand on your toes or push off while running. As a result, Achilles tendons must carry your entire body weight, and, depending on the incline and speed at which you're running, can effectively support more than your body weight.


  3. Achilles tendinitis results from overuse, which is why runners are especially prone to developing the condition. One of the biggest culprits is running up and down hills, which causes the tendon to stretch more than it does on a flat surface. In addition to pushing yourself through longer runs and steeper inclines or simply running faster, a contributing factor to Achilles tendinitis is less recovery time between workouts. Improper footwear, particularly if it doesn't support the foot enough, is also a problem.


  4. There are two types of Achilles tendinitis: acute and chronic. Acute Achilles tendinitis develops over a period of days and becomes especially painful during exercise, only to subside with rest. The tendon can also be very tender to the touch in acute Achilles tendinitis. Chronic tendinitis can take months to reach a point of pain or discomfort. By then it's painful even to walk (especially upstairs). You may also feel lumps or nodules in your tendon once chronic Achilles tendinitis develops.


  5. Stretch. Stretch. Stretch. It's the smartest thing you can do to prevent injury. Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out flat in front of you. Bend one leg at the knee and cross it over the other. Then flex the foot that is still stretched out flat, pointing the toes back toward you. Hold for 10 seconds and switch legs. Another good stretch is to stand with your arms in front of you as though you were doing a push-up against a wall. Move one foot close to the wall and relax it. Take the other leg and straighten it behind you, trying to keep your foot flat on the floor or ground while you stretch your calf and Achilles tendon. Hold that position for several seconds and switch legs.


  6. Don't let an Achilles tendon injury go untreated for long, because it will be harder to treat. At first, the best treatment is rest (a week to 2 months), daily stretching, other physical therapy and ice. More serious cases of Achilles tendinitis can be treated with electrical stimulation and ultrasound.

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