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Treating Achilles Tendonitis for Runners

October 11th, 2012

“-Itis” is probably the least favorite suffix out there for runners. Aside from the dreaded plantar fasciitis (discussed previously on our blog here), you also have to be on the lookout for bursitis, periostitis, tendonitis, and doinglaundryitis (OK, we made that last one up).

This post is all about the big daddy of tendonitis injuries in the running world: Achilles tendonitis. How can you tell when an achy Achilles tendon may be the onset of Achilles tendonitis? When is is serious enough to seek medical attention? The bottom line is that Achilles tendonitis is an injury you can bounce back from, but you have to be smart and persistent about treating it.

What to Watch For

Shooting or burning pain in the area of the tendon, typically aggravated by repeated stress of the tendon and worsening through the duration of activity. Other symptoms include swelling and thickening of the tendon, as well as a creaking feel when touching or moving the affected area.

Can I Run on It?

Maybe. It is possible to run while treating this injury, but you have to focus on preventing further harm while also giving the tendon time to heal. Depending on the seriousness of the injury, your best course of action may be to curtail your runs (“relative rest”) until you can complete a few PT sessions to start repairing the tendon and build strength in the tendon and related muscles. It’s always a good idea to talk with a medical professional to get guidance on your situation.

If you can run on it, you’ll likely be told to decrease your mileage, and take several rest days every week. You might also need to avoid any speed or hillwork, as these can put further strain on the Achilles tendon.  A shoe insert in the heel of your shoe can decrease the strain placed on the Achilles tendon during your running stride.

After warmups and you hit the pavement, pay close attention to how your Achilles tendon feels. At the first sign of pain, it’s a good idea to stop running. “Pushing through the pain” of Achilles tendonitis is not the best course of action, as you run the risk of causing further damage to, or even rupturing, the tendon.

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