Sore achilles?

12 messages
11/12/2007 at 11:59

Hi All,

Needing a bit of advice.  I'm a bit of a beginner (doing up to 15 miles per week), and have started training for a HM in Feb.

Last Wednesday, I was doing speed intervals on the treadmill, and when changing from walking to running about halfway through, I felt a small pain at the back of my ankle.  I carried on a finished my session, and it was a bit sore afterwards, so I rested until yesterday, by which time it didn't hurt at all.

So yesterday I did 40 mins steady on the treadmill (damn weather!), and it started twinging again after 20 minutes, but wasn't too bad.  It's now feeling like it was last week.

So my question is really this - is it my achilles?  I'm unsure because it's only hurting in one spot.  The best way to explain it is that it feels like a bruise (tender to poke), and if you were to pinch the left achilles between your left thumb and forefinger, where it sticks out just above the heel, it's painful where the thumb is.  It doesn't really hurt when I flex the foot, but is quite sore going up and down stairs.

There's no swelling or redness, and the rest of the tendon and calf muscle feels fine.  So have I damaged the tendon, or maybe the soft tissue next to it?  Any advice appreciated.

Sorry for such a long-winded question!

PSC    pirate
11/12/2007 at 12:08

sounds like an achilles problem.

Many will say rest - others will say run with less intensity.... not sure what the right answer is.  Last time I had an achilles problem I got some sorbothane heel pads and put them under my insoles to raise the back of the foot (this is not a long term solution but does shorten the calf muscle while you treat the injury).  For treatment you want to stretch the calfs properly and do some strengthening exercises.  Best exercises are done on a step.  Put front of foot on the step with the back of the foot hanging off the step then slowly lower the heel and then rise up on your toes - repeat 10 x then build up.  Do these slowly to strengthen the calf (and do both sides equally).  You can also gently massage the affected area to improve blood flow.  If it gets worse then stop running on it for a bit and give it a rest.

There was a good article written on Fetch about how to improve tendinitis without stopping running.  I know a number of people (including me) that it worked for (Fetch Article)

Good luck 

11/12/2007 at 12:48

Thanks PSC.  That article is very interesting, if not a little scary!

I don't think it's my shoes - I use Asics 2120's, and they're about halfway through their lives.  However, I did use my new Grizzly Approaches on the previous run, but I don't think that's the problem.  I might do a short run tomorrow, and see if it has any effect.

21/12/2007 at 22:48
Hey Sazza hows the heel now
28/12/2007 at 11:52

If it is a short term problem then rest (when it hurts) and gentle running (when it is fine) should be OK.  RICE when it hurts and you can even do some massage if you like.  Stretch regularly, but not too much when it is sore

If the problem persists for more than a week or two, then get a sports massage.  You might need to go back for a few about once a week or once a fortnight but make sure that you use the time to get the therapist to show you how to do the stretches properly and give you a good variety so that you don't get too bored and give up.

28/12/2007 at 21:57

Hey doog - much better thanks.

SuperCaz - that's basically what I've done.  I was finding that it would hurt a bit running, but never seemed to get worse, so I'd RICE after a run, and give it a bit of massage.

Went for a short fast run today, which I thought would set it off, but I've had no pain at all.  I think I'm cured!

I think my left calf is tighter than the right, so maybe I'll be prone to the same injury, so I'm making sure I do loads of stretches.  Not just after a run, but throughout the day. 

31/12/2007 at 08:53
Sazza, I'm not sure that you are ever 'cured' with an achilles problem - just in remission.  But if you keep the stretches up and carry on icing when you get a twinge then you can probably keep the injury at bay enough so that is doesn't interfere with your running.  Good luck.
31/12/2007 at 09:31

Thanks for the link to the Fetch article, makes interesting reading.

12/02/2012 at 12:50
I kicked my own foot(not on purpose) just below the ankle now when I pull my foot up there is a slight popping action on the ligament just below ankle joint I am also getting pain in my achilles which I didn't have before, I'm training for London so don't want to stop training but worried I'm going to do more harm, please help. Clare.
12/02/2012 at 16:09
Achilles problems are notorious for taking a long time to recover from. This is because tendons have a poor blood supply (unlike muscle injuries that usually recover fairly swiftly). It is also because runner's do not like to stop running, so we keep running through the pain in the hope that we can "run through it".

Some pains we can run through and they will just go away but pain in the Achilles area should be respected, rested for a bit, -until there is no pain when getting out of bed first thing- and strengthened. Cross training should be fine during this period like rowing, cycling or cross trainer machine- which will ensure you can continue to improve your fitness and develop the aerobic and muscular changes you need for upcoming events

13/02/2012 at 20:53

Great Fetch article, well the first bit at least - not sure about acupuncture, and the link from the article doesn't work.

That guy was a bit drastic with his achilles tendon - tight muscles, or tendons for that matter, do not really like such violent stretches.  I would suggest going at it more gently.  Also avoid contracting the tendon/calf - it is elongating and stretching that you need to do.

Like the bit about standing on one leg - I've been doing that as well.  Every time in a queue (and cleaning my teeth!) there I was doing my stork impression.  Taking every opportunity to strengthen the ankle.

I've started a thread on having  AT (whether -itis or -osis) long term - should still be on the first page - which people might find instructive.  I've found it absolutely necessary and part of the healing process to carry on running, albeit with great care and at a lot slower pace. And avoiding downhills.

13/02/2012 at 21:02

I think every time I got out of bed and after long periods of sitting there was pain, but I decided very early on I needed to keep mobile. 

Agree about seeing a therapist - make that a top priority.

Although I did use them for a while, I don't think heel inserts e.g. Sorbothane are the way forward.  They have the effect of slightly contracting the achilles/ calf mucscles which you don't want to do.  I think the main benefit of them was only that by raising the heel slightly a different part of the tendon rubbed against the back of the shoe. Instead I have taken the drastic action of enlarging the v-notch at the back of my shoes with a knife to prevent irritation.


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