How To Treat Achilles Tendonitis In Runners – A Complete Guide
Have you ever felt pain in the Achilles during and after a run? Unfortunately, you are one of the many runners who may have experienced Achilles tendonitis at some point.
Achilles Tendonitis is one of the most brutal injuries a runner can experience. It can not only put an abrupt stop to your training but also put you out for months at a time.
Because of this, we have compiled a full guide to Achilles tendonitis in runners so you can learn:
– What is Achilles tendonitis?
– Why runners develop Achilles problems
– The cause of Achilles tendonitis
– How to treat Achilles tendonitis
And much more. So, if you are struggling with pain around the Achilles tendon, keep reading.
What Is Achilles Tendonitis?
First, before we explain what Achilles tendonitis is, you need to know about the Achilles tendon.
The primary job of the Achilles tendon is to help transfer power to your ankle and foot when walking or running. Since the tendon is the strongest in our body, it can hold more than 1,000 lbs of pressure. Meaning it can withstand nearly every sport and movement you do. However, there are times when the tendon gets inflamed from overuse, and this is where runners and other sportspeople start to suffer.
Cause of Achilles Tendonitis In Runners
Most of the time the cause of Achilles tendonitis in runners comes from overuse. This happens when the tendon can no longer deal with the strain placed on it. This results in micro-damage within the tendon fibers.
As a runner, this typically happens when we try to increase volume or intensity too quickly. It can also happen when we don’t allow adequate recovery between workouts.
When this happens the Achilles starts to feel sore, swells up, gets weaker, and ends up feeling stiff. This then ends up putting the runner out of action for a period of time.
However, overtraining isn’t just the main cause of Achilles tendonitis. Other factors include:
Age – As you get older, the risk for tendon injuries rises by 20%. This usually comes on after the age of 30 and is because the tendon’s elasticity starts to drop as we get older.
Gender – Male runners are more likely to get Achilles tendinitis than females. This is largely due to the training volume.
Feet Anatomy – Things like flat feet or pronated feet can cause pressure on the Achilles tendon, which can cause tendinopathy.
Running Shoes – Incorrect or worn running shoes, are often the cause of Achilles issues.
Tight Muscles – Tight calf and lower leg muscles can contribute to increased load on the tendon. Creating much more tension in the Achilles.
Symptoms of Achilles Tendonitis
Luckily there are some symptoms of Achilles Tendonitis that you can look out for. This will help you to treat and recover from the injury during the early stages, preventing a long-term injury or increased time off running.
Typically Achilles tendonitis pain starts with a mild ache around the heel after running.
This is usually followed by stiffness of the tendon or tenderness during the early stages. Tenderness is often felt first thing in the morning, while stiffness can usually come and go throughout the day, depending on how active you are.
Other symptoms you might experience, include:
– Redness around the Achilles area
– Heel pain before, during, and after running
– Swelling around the heel
– Swelling of the Achilles tendon
– Pain and stiffness in the Achilles
– Poor flexibility in the ankle
– Tightness during plantar or dorso flexion
– Cracking sound when moving the ankle
Just like any other injury, there are different grades. That means depending on the severity of the injury, the pain will be different.
Just like any other injury, Achilles tendonitis pain varies in severity.
Pain In The Achilles Tendon When Running
If you experience pain in the Achilles tendon when running it is important to either rest or reduce the training load straight away.
If you don’t you find yourself having a forced break from running. This forced break can last between three and nine months depending on the severity of the injury.
That’s why if you experience pain in the Achilles tendon when running, you will need to rest and ice the surrounding areas.
If the severity of the injury is low, you may have tight or fatigued calf muscles. This can transfer more pressure and tension to the tendon. So, if you start feeling pain when running around the heel, try to massage out the calf muscles to release pressure on the tendon.
Alternatively, check your running shoes, or look at your training. Have you overused your shoes? Or have you recently increased your training load? Both are things that can affect the Achilles tendon.
Just remember taking some days off to allow the tendon to repair, will prevent a long-term injury. Fitness won’t be lost during a week off.
Pain In The Achilles Tendon After Running
If you experience pain in the Achilles after running, you may already be dealing with Achilles tendonitis. However, if it is not hurting during a run, you are in the early stages.
That means, after your run it is important to ice, compress and elevate the lower legs. This will help to reduce any inflammation.
It is also important to regularly massage the lower and upper legs to release any tension around the heel. By doing this, you may speed up the recovery process and keep the training going.
However, when it starts to hurt running, and not just after a run, you will need to make the decision whether you should rest from running completely or not.
For most people, 1-2 weeks, and regular massaging will fix the issue if you only experience tendon pain after running. However, if the pain is substantial when running, it can take months to recover from.