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Overcoming Achilles Tendon Pain

Running is a joyful escape, a chance to challenge ourselves and connect with the world around us. However, the rhythmic footfalls that propel us forward can sometimes lead to discomfort and pain, particularly in the Achilles tendon. Achilles tendon pain is a common concern among runners that can significantly impact training and enjoyment. In this blog, we’ll explore the causes, treatment, and prevention strategies for Achilles tendon pain, helping you get back on track and continue pursuing your running passion.

Understanding Achilles Tendon Pain:

The Achilles tendon, a thick band of tissue connecting the calf muscles to the heel bone, plays a crucial role in running. However, the repetitive stress of running can lead to overuse and irritation, resulting in Achilles tendon pain. Common causes of this pain include:

Tendonitis or Tendinitis: Acute inflammation of the Achilles tendon due to repetitive stress and overuse.

Tendonosis or Tendinosis: Microtears and degeneration of the tendon tissue, often resulting from chronic overuse.

Tendon Rupture: A more severe condition involving partial or complete tearing of the Achilles tendon, usually requiring medical intervention.

Treatment and Recovery:

Rest and Ice: Initially, rest is crucial to allow the tendon to heal. Applying ice can help reduce inflammation and provide pain relief.

Stretching and Strengthening: Gentle stretching of the calf muscles and Achilles tendon can improve flexibility. Gradually incorporate strengthening exercises to promote healing and prevent future injuries.

Physical Therapy: Consult a physical therapist for personalized exercises and techniques that address the underlying causes of Achilles tendon pain.

Footwear and Orthotics: Properly fitting running shoes with adequate cushioning and support can alleviate strain on the Achilles tendon. Custom orthotics may also provide additional support and alignment.

Cross-Training: Engage in low-impact activities like swimming or cycling to maintain cardiovascular fitness while giving your Achilles tendon a break.

Prevention Strategies:

  • Proper Warm-Up and Cool Down: Prioritize dynamic stretching before running and static stretching after to prepare the muscles and tendons for activity.
  • Gradual Progression: Avoid sudden increases in mileage or intensity, allowing your body to adapt gradually.
  • Footwear Selection: Choose running shoes that provide appropriate arch support and cushioning, and replace them regularly.
  • Adequate Rest: Incorporate rest days into your training routine to give your body time to recover.
  • Strength Training: Focus on strengthening the calf muscles and lower leg to support the Achilles tendon.
  • Achilles tendon pain may be a temporary setback, but it doesn’t have to be the end of your running journey. As Physical Therapists, we understand the unique challenges faced by runners dealing with Achilles tendon pain. Let us be your partners in healing, preventing future injuries, and rediscovering the joy of running with a healthy and resilient Achilles tendon.
AUTHOR

Stu Kershner

PT, MPT, OCS​

Kershner Physical Therapy LLC

Eliminate your aches and pains so you can move better, feel better, and return to your active, healthy lifestyle

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