How Runners Can Prevent Achilles Tendinitis

Fall is coming. With the drop in temperatures, more people will be participating in physical activities of all kinds, such as school sports, league competition, and recreational fitness. Runners, especially in the South, like to train in the fall and winter months. If you’re a Houston runner, chances are you may be preparing for one of the many local races coming in the next 6 months. With top-tier events such as the Houston Chevron Marathon, Aramco Houston Half Marathon, and the ABB 5K coming in January, this marks the official start of training season for many. It’s an exciting time, whether you’re looking to complete your first 5K fun run or achieve a new PR in a marathon.

Of course, with Houston’s hot and humid summers, many athletes have either taken time off or cut back on their running volume, perhaps getting involved in other forms of exercise such as swimming or cycling.

Risks Associated with Achilles Tendinitis

If you’re preparing to increase your activity level during this time, you must have a good understanding of how you can prevent Achilles tendinitis, a painful and acute inflammation of the back of the leg between the heel and calf muscle. This is a common injury that can put a damper on your training and potentially lead to a tear in the achilles tendon. Approximately 75% of all acute Achilles tendon ruptures take place as a result of participation in sports activities. Ruptures are most prevalent among males between 30-40 years old. While a rupture of the achilles tendon can be treated through a surgical procedure or a non-surgical approach, this type of injury will impact your mobility and require a period of rehabilitation ranging from 4-6 months.

Tips for Prevention

Achilles tendinitis is a condition that can often be prevented. Follow these tips to reduce the likelihood of developing this painful inflammation during your training.

  1. If you have been on an extended break and want to start a regular running regimen, take it slowly and increase your mileage and training intensity gradually.
  2. Avoid overuse injury by optimizing your workout schedule, especially when starting out. Try not to run during the evening one day only to follow with another run the next morning. This also covers the intensity of your training. Most well-designed training programs will have you alternate different type of runs throughout the week, so that you’re not overdoing distance or speed. Beware of making up your own running plan based on what feels good on any given day.
  3. Wear supportive running shoes that have provide cushioning to the heel area and firm arch support to reduce the tension in the tendon during exercise. If you have always purchased your running shoes online or at a general sporting goods store, you may want to visit a local specialty running store. These shops focus primarily on the needs of runners, selling shoes that are designed for different types of event distances and varying level of arch support. Shop clerks should be much more knowledgeable about the shoes they carry and they can guide you on important aspects of fit and shoe lifespan (measured in miles). However, don’t purchase a pair of shoes if they don’t feel right to you.
  4. Make it a habit to stretch every day, focusing on the lower body. As you do that, your Achilles’ tendon will become more flexible. Furthermore, a solid stretching routine will also increase the ability of the entire foot to support an increased demand over time, offering a degree of added protection against other types of foot injury.

If you are experiencing pain in the area of the achilles tendon that is made worse during exercise, you should consult an experienced foot care specialist immediately. Dr. Gabriel Maislos is a board-certified Houston podiatrist with experience diagnosing and treating all types of foot conditions, including achilles tendinitis, heel pain, tarsal tunnel syndrome, ankle injuries and more. Schedule an appointment by calling us at (713) 541-3199 today.

Author
Houston Foot and Ankle

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