The Achilles tendon is a large, strong, and highly adaptable structure that can withstand significant amounts of repetitive loading. But it's also the most commonly injured tendon in the body! We simply use it a lot. It can take quite some time to fully get rid of this annoying condition. Sticking with a good rehabilitation plan is key to full recovery.
So, what should you do? Here are three important ways in how to tackle Achilles Tendinopathy among runners.
1. Strengthen your calf and your tendon.
Common sense, right?
Well, many people don't want to exercise the tendon due to pain and the fear of "creating more damage." Nothing could be further from the truth. Heavy lifting with a focus on the calf complex, will HELP the tendon withstand stresses - now and in the future. We're ultimately protecting the tendon more, by making it stronger.
Tip: Include calf raises with heavy weights (in machine or with free weights) in your fitness routine. 2-3 x week, for 12+ weeks.
2. Adjust your training schedule.
Also common sense, right? ;)
If you are a runner, you don't have to stop running completely due to your Achilles pain. In fact, stopping running completely leaves us de-conditioned, and once we start back up - BOOM! there's that pain again.........
Tip: Find the distance and pace where you only feel mild symptoms throughout the run (a 0-3 on a 0-10 pain scale), and where symptoms don't flare-up for more than 24 hrs after. This might take some trial and error. But chances are that you already know this distance, from having suffered from Achilles pain.
3. Address other weak areas in your body, such as your glutes.
Your glutes (aka hip extensors aka "butt") and your calf accept impact from running at the same time in the gait cycle. Meaning, if your glutes are not doing their share to accept the pounding of running, then too much stress and responsibility is placed on the calf complex. Get your hip extensors strong to offload that calf!
Tip: Perform single-leg hip bridges twice a week, alternating with weighted step-ups.
It takes time to fully get rid of pain to a tendon - but stick with it, it's worth putting in the effort!
Drop us a line to find out how you can optimize & individualize your recovery. Let's get it!
Katarina Erlandsson, PT DPT
Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
In-Home Physical Therapy in Madison NJ & Surrounding Areas
Runners | Athletes | Exercise Enthusiasts