Running And Achilles Tendonitis: Everything You Should Know About

Achilles tendonitis is no less than a nightmare for every runner. The condition can put you off the running track for from a few months to almost a full year.

Moreover, if you ignore the symptoms of inflammation and keep running, you may exaggerate the condition that will result in tendon rupture and partial or complete tear of the Achilles tendon.

What is the Achilles tendon?

It is a band of tissues that connects the calf muscles on your leg back with the heel bone (calcaneus). This tendon lifts your heel off the ground while walking, running, or standing on your tiptoes.

The Achilles tendon is the thickest, strongest and largest tendon in the human body. Despite its size and tensile strength, it frequently gets injured. If this tendon is overused and stressed, it causes inflammation in the tendon which is known as Achilles tendonitis.

Repetitive stress to the tendon with a sudden increase in the amount or intensity of running is the major cause that could lead you towards this irritating painful condition. It is also common for the people lying in the middle age category who play sports only on the weekends. This majorly stresses lower extremity joints and their muscles, such as tennis, badminton, basketball, etc.

Symptoms of Achilles tendonitis:

Achilles tendonitis pain starts with a mild ache around the heel after running. During the early stages, this is usually followed by stiffness of the tendon or tenderness. This tenderness is often the first thing to get noticed in the morning, while stiffness can usually come and go throughout the day. It all depends on how active you are.

  • Pain in the heel and along the length of the tendon when walking or running
  • Discomfort in the Achilles tendon when touched or moved
  • Difficulty standing up on one toe
  • Redness over the skin.
  • Swelling over the Achilles

 Do Not Delay Achilles tendinitis:

If the acute tendon injury is not treated properly or allowed to heal, chronic Achilles tendinitis may often follow from acute Achilles tendinitis. Chronic Achilles tendonitis is a difficult condition to treat, particularly in older athletes who appear to suffer more often.

The pains experienced during the acute phase of the injury tend to disappear after a warm-up but return when training has stopped. Eventually, the injury gets worse and worse until it is impossible to run. in the end, it often results in the complete tear of the Achilles tendon where you need to get the surgery done with a minimum of six months to one year of complete rest.

  • There may be nodules or lumps in the Achilles tendon in chronic conditions, particularly 2cm above the heel.
  • Pain in the tendon when walking especially uphill or upstairs.
  • Chronic tendonitis differs from acute tendinitis in that it is more of a long-term persistent problem.

Is It OK to run with Achilles tendonitis?

Is It OK to run with Achilles tendonitis

The answer is Yes and No, both. It all depends if you considered various factors, such as your case’s severity, symptoms, and pattern. Depending on these factors, you can decide whether to continue running or let your Achilles tendon first heal properly. If your case worsens over time, it is best to consult your physician or therapist immediately.

Should I stop running if my Achilles tendon hurts?

Whether it is walking or running, every leg movement can be credited to the Achilles tendon and so its importance is. So no wonder, it can get cranky immediately and so easily.

Achilles tendonitis is typically caused by repetition and overuse. That’s why running with Achilles tendonitis tends to make the problem worse, and can increase the chance of tears or tendon ruptures. So to avoid this and be on the safer side, consultancy must be taken from the therapist/physician on getting even a minor symptom of it.

A sore Achilles in the morning is often the first sign that you need to hold up and pay attention to before it becomes something challenging for you.

Can running shoes cause Achilles tendonitis?

Stiff shoes, usually those that are brand new, might lead to your foot over-rotating, irritating your tendon. Achilles tendonitis can be common with runners who turn their feet too far inwards when they contact the ground, known as over-pronation. Stiff shoes only exacerbate this issue.

See the best running shoes for Achilles tendonitis

Moreover, there isn’t an exact scientific link between tight toe boxes shoes and Achilles problems, but experts say that foot stability is strongly linked to your big toe. If your big toe is stuffed into a tight toe box and squished into a pointed shape with your other toes, it may not be able to help you balance properly. See a guide on how your running shoes should fit.

This could also cause straining your Achilles tendon. Varying your running shoes can be the best way to prevent Achilles’ problems.

How do I strengthen my Achilles tendon for running?

You can strengthen your Achilles tendon by certain stretching and strengthening exercises for your calves and ankles. Additionally, by the prescription of your sports physician work on your lower body to build strength, flexibility, and endurance in the muscles that support your ankle and Achilles tendon.

There are certain Isometric and Isotonic exercises like toe standing, short sitting weight-bearing exercises, etc. which help strengthen your tendon and make it bearable enough for even weight caring running exercises.

How do I treat my Achilles tendonitis at home?

The concern with your therapist/physician would be your first priority. And with respect to that, you can follow these protocols for its speedy healing at home.

Treatment has two objectives: to reduce the inflammation and to allow the tendon to heal. POLICE principle is a modern/modified first aid method of treating musculoskeletal injuries. POLICE is an acronym that stands for protection, optimal loading, ice compression, and elevation. It promotes and guides safe and effective loading in acute soft tissue injury management. It is mostly recommended for the treatment of Achilles tendonitis.

In recent research published on the treatment of Achilles tendonitis by the Department of Orthopedics, Massachusetts General Hospital, United States., several useful methodologies and curing techniques were shown and mentioned.

  • Ice the Achilles tendon for 20 minutes, two or three times a day and after any sporting activities— apply a bag of crushed ice over a towel or submerge the foot and tendon in a pan of ice water. This reduces swelling, inflammation, and pain.
  • Aspirin, Aleve, or Advil sometimes helps to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.

Exercise Program:

1. Theraband Exercises:

Theraband Exercises

All exercises should be done without pain or excessive stretch at the injury site. The following Theraband exercises can be done once or twice a day, as instructed by the doctor or the physical therapist, as Alex Petruska (PT) said in the publication.

1. With tubing around the foot, press foot down Repeat 30 times. This is the most important of the exercises.

Stretching and Strengthening Program:

After two or three weeks, you can progress to the following exercises if they are pain-free. You can follow this program every other day, or as instructed by the doctor or the physical therapist. The most effective time to stretch is after exercise.

1. Calf Stretching:

Calf steching

Keep the injured leg further from the wall. Maintain the knee extended with the heel and foot flat on the floor. Lean toward the wall until a stretch is felt in the calf. Do not stretch excessively. Hold 15 to 20 seconds. Repeat three to five-time.

2. Dorsiflexion Stretch:

Standing with both knees bent and the injured foot forward, gently lean forward, bending the injured knee over the ankle while
keeping the heel and foot flat on the floor. This stretch will be felt in the ankle close to the heel or in the front of the ankle.

Do not over-stretch! Hold 15 to 20 seconds, Repeat three to five times.

3. Single-Leg Balancing:

Single leg balancing

Attempt to balance on the injured leg while holding the uninjured foot in the air. When you can balance easily, you can attempt to balance with your eyes closed, or while someone throws you a ball. Practice this exercise for 5 minutes.

How long should I rest a sore Achilles?

The Achilles tendon has a poor blood supply which is why it is slow to heal. But it does not mean to be in a complete rest after a minor soring because this will cause immobilization which is absolutely unfavorable for its recovery.

You must stay as active as possible while your Achilles tendon recovers. Just cut out the things that really irritate your tendon and keep up your daily routine. If in case your tendon is ruptured or completely torn out then 4 weeks to 1-year rest can be suggested by your therapist, respectively.

References

Brooks, A. (2018). Achilles Pain While Running? Here’s How to Treat, Prevent and Heal for Good. Retrieved May 6, 2022, from RunToTheFinish:

Dr.Malick, U. (2022). Achilles Tendonitis. Sports Injuries and Rehabilitation, 169.

Dr.Sarfaraz. (2022, April 20). Advanced Treatments of Tendonitis. Karachi, Pakistan.

Mark. (2021, December 31). Can Running Shoes Cause Achilles Tendonitis. Retrieved May 7, 2022, from WhichFootwear:

MayoClinic. (2021, Sept. 30). Achilles tendinitis. Retrieved May 9, 2022, from Mayo Clinic:

Petruska, A. (n.d.). Rehabilitation-Protocol-for-Achilles-tendinitis.pdf. Retrieved May 8, 2022, from massgeneral.org:

Physiopedia. (n.d.). POLICE Principle. Retrieved May 9, 2022, from Physiopedia:

Ryan Thomas Conyer, MD. (2022, March). Achilles Tendonitis. Retrieved May 9, 2022, from OrthoInfo:

Siddiqui, D. M. (n.d.). Achilles Tendonitis and Running.

 

8 thoughts on “Running And Achilles Tendonitis: Everything You Should Know About”

  1. Such a good informative article for those who taken lightly about such injuries and just like, let it be.

    But from my perspective,
    It briefly explained about various condition regarding
    “Achilles Tendonitis”

    I really appreciate your researched work and your article is not about just a fact, but also describing you!

    Mashallah!
    And jazakallah to let us know!

    Reply
  2. Such and informative article 👏
    Thank you so much for highlighting such important points to avoid injuries and recommending exercises necessary for any sports person and even students of Rehab like us
    JAZAK ALLAH Khair ✨

    Reply

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