Achilles tendonitis is one of the most common runner’s injuries, and can be quite painful and incapacitating. There is a great deal of stress and torque applied to that tendon, so it is not surprising it can be subject to injury. Of course, as we all know, prevention is much better than a cure. But, how do you go about preventing such a common problem?
This tendon is the strongest and the largest in the human body, but it is still susceptible to injury, particularly from running. Add up the number of strikes your feet make in a kilometer and you can see why injuries are common. Now if your feet do not track perfectly straight, or if they don’t strike the ground at a level angle, Achilles tendonitis may be the result. This makes walking, let alone running, difficult or impossible because of the inflammation and pain.
First of all, what is the proper diagnosis of this condition? What is it that you are trying to avoid? You may notice pain when you bend your toes as you push off. Look for swelling and redness at the rear of the heel. Or, it might just be a feeling of stiffness if you catch it soon enough. The location of these issues could be where the tendon attaches to the calf muscle or in the rear heel area.
- The first goal you should work toward is increasing the strength in your calves. Repetitive toe raising exercises can really help. While standing, bring yourself up on your toes and slowly lower yourself (take 10 seconds).
- Make certain you are wearing proper running shoes that fit correctly.
- Warming up is another important technique to ward off this problem. Try stretching exercises and then walking around for a few minutes before you start your run, and then start jogging.
- Exercising—don’t be a weekend warrior. It is vitally important to exercise on a regular basis. Try to run on soft surfaces (but not too soft) to give your body a break. Running continuously on concrete will take its toll. Don’t forget to stretch after exercising.
- Exercising is only a portion of the equation. You must balance that with a proper diet, water, and getting a regular amount of sleep—7-8 hours ideally. To keep your bones and tissues strong, make certain you consume enough calcium every day—1,000 to 1,200 mg. In addition, if too much phosphorus is taken in, an insufficiency of calcium may result. Soft drinks and junk food are loaded with phosphorus.
- Another recommendation is to maintain a healthy weight. Excess pounds will just make you more prone to this injury.
- Mix in low impact exercises, like bicycling or swimming.
Achilles tendonitis is a problem that is much better to prevent than to heal. That’s why you should do everything you can to avoid any sort of flare-up. Follow these preventive tips to give you the best chance of avoiding such an injury. Here’s to good running!
To learn more about Achilles tendonitis, please contact Active Physio Health on ph. 4972 5155, or visit the website: www.activephysiohealth.com.au . Shayne has been providing physiotherapy services to Gladstone for the past 5 years.