Dubai, UAE : I’ve got crazy Achilles pain after increasing my weekly mileage. Should I stop running or can I continue training?
The Achilles Tendon is the strong tendon attaching the gastrocnemius muscle (calf muscle) to the calcaneus bone (heel bone) and it plays a few key roles in running including rebound off the ground at taking off, shock absorption and power generation via the gastrocnemius muscle. It is therefore vulnerable to overload and pain in runners if technique, muscle length, loading patterns or muscle control is not optimal.
If you are experiencing Achilles pain when running to prevent ongoing/worsening injury and pain you should seek medical advice including a running assessment by a specialist running Physiotherapist before you continue to train.
There are some more common issues that cause pain in the Achilles tendon in runners; these are often described as tendinopathy or tendinosis which refer to a breakdown and or inflammation of the tissue making up the Achilles tendon. The exact cause of this breakdown should be assessed by a specialist Sports Doctor or Physiotherapist as there can be many reasons.
The key to preventing and treating Achilles pain is an accurate diagnosis and identifying the cause of the pain followed by physiotherapy treatment. First line treatment will vary based on the causative factors but will often include correction of technique and loading patterns, increasing specific flexibility & strength and using manual techniques to joints and soft tissue. Treatment of Achilles pain, especially when there is tendon thickening seen on ultrasound scan suggesting Achilles tendinopathy, should involve isometric and eccentric Achilles loading programme. This will be prescribed by your Specialist Physiotherapist. Other factors that should be considered are footwear options, running cadence and training volumes.
The following exercises which can be done at home would be helpful in ensuring your flexibility is optimal:
Foam rolling the Calf using roller
Place the foam roller between the Achilles tendon and calf muscle. Cross the other leg over the leg being treated to increase the pressure. Roll the entire calf in an up and down motion. Pause at any spots that feel especially tender. Keep your calf relaxed. For 1 minute per leg.
Foam rolling hip flexors and quads using a roller
Lunge stretch for hip flexors
Split squat position arms overhead: Stand up and take a step forward to be in a split squat position, legs hip-width. From this position, raise your arms directly overhead. Lower yourself so your knees are flexed 90°with the back knee on the floor. Make sure your front knee doesn’t go past your toes. Shift your weight forwards onto the front foot. Hold for 40 secs each.
Downward dog stretch
Start on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Push your hips up towards the ceiling and have your arms in line with your torso. Try to extend your knees and to lower your heels toward the floor as you push your bodyweight towards your legs. Then bend one leg and extend the other x 10 reps. Hold the position for 20 secs.
Click HERE or call 04 518 5400 to book an appointment with our Run Specialist Physiotherapist Kelly Robinson for treatment
Kelly Robison can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org