This injury is Achilles Tendinitis as well as Bursitis in the Achilles area.The sad truth about if you get it, it can last a few weeks (If you can catch it early and get off your foot.) To several months and believe it or not quite a few runners deal with this for 2-3 years. Many runners, can't deal with the recovery and even give up running because of it.
The good news is, for the most part you can take many precautions to prevent this from ever happening to you!
So these are what I call Kristy's tips on avoiding Achilles tendon issues and tips on what to do if you think you may have it. Note, these are just my tips, you should see a doctor or trust a doctors advice if you have any injuries or pains you are worried about.
Tip #1 - More than likely the injury won't happen while your running! It will most likely happen while you are walking down the street, stepping off a curve or pushing or lifting something heavy when the calf is stretched.
Tip #2 - If you have high arches, or even medium arches. Especially if you are a distance runner avoid wearing flat shoes, flip flops, low drop and flats when you are not running.
Tip #3 - Low Drop A.K.A Minimal shoes, Natural Shoes and Barefoot Running Shoes - Don't use them! I know they are becoming increasingly popular with runners, but runners injuries are also on the rise.
The shoes may work for flat foot runners or people who have difficulties with other shoes and a foot doctor may recommend them for some with problems with regular shoes (which is fine).
But unless your doctor recommends you switch and you are having issues running with regular types of running shoes DON'T make the switch just for the heck of it!!! Doing so can increase your risk of tendon injury, but there are also several other injuries runners get with wearing the wrong shoes for them.
I can't tell you how many runners who have told me this is how their started, including myself who had issue because of these type of shoes. (FYI mine was from walking around in a minimal shoe at work.)
Tip #4 - If you feel any pain in the Achilles area (even slight) that doesn't go away after a short time, that may be the start. Start R.I.C.E methods and don't run on it or walk on it much until the pain goes away. Catch it early you may only be out a week or so if it didn't pull bad. Not doing this, you could end up like me 9 months with little to no running or years like others I have spoken to.
I'd also like to add to this, it starts so gradual at times and a lot of this has to do with paying attention to your body, know what "good pains" and "bad pains" are so you can help correct issues before they start!
Tip #5 - If you don't see a noticeable recovery after 1 week, make sure you see a doctor!
Tip #6 - Walking or gradually warming up before you run will help. Additionally building up strong calves using toe raiser exercises can help prevent it. The standing leg stretch is also a great way to keep this tendon loose. However, there are many other stretches and foam rollers that can help too.
Tip #7 - If you your Achilles is bothering you. You can buy a brace at a local store that will be supportive and help apply compression to the area - A doctor may later put you into a walking boot.
Tip #8 - Cross training, this will help you in a lot of ways. This can help strengthen your legs/caves and ankles in ways that running and stretching alone will not and can be a great preventative measure!
Tip #9 - Most important of all, if you need to visit a doctor, ONLY visit one who is a runner or who works with runners! Doctors who are runners get us, they understand us and they know the best recovery programs for us to help keep us lifelong runners. Non-running doctors, you risk getting told "to find a new sport." There are plenty of them out there, if you don't know of one, just ask a local running store, or ask other runners in the area. Most experienced runners have a short list of running doctors to visit, and they'll gladly share! (Well at least I would if asked:)
Tip #10 - Be smart!
I may not have made all of the mistakes listed above, but I did make a few!
Sometimes life happens, and injuries are a part of life. But when you get them, they are not fun and really the best thing you can get out of them is what to never do again. Pay attention to your body, its so easy to think a small slight pain will go away the next day.. Then the next, and before you know it, it can get worse so gradually you'll pass up on warning signs. When in doubt, take a day or two off running and see if it gets better, if it doesn't then you have some choices to make! The smarter the choice, the sooner you'll be back doing what you love pain free again!
Some runners who have tendinitis (tendons that haven't yet ruptured) choose to run through the pain. This choice is entirely yours. But from what I have learned it is best not too. Scar tissue can build up, and you may get through several years of running with just minimal pain in the area, only to hit a point where your running career is over for good. Take care of yourself, it is better to pass up a few runs or one race, rather than a lifetime of running!
Stay safe my running friends, and pay attention to your body! I hope to be joining you all on the race courses and logging in the road miles very very soon!!! - Cheers -
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nor a sports physical therapist. None of the information above should be taken as medical advice. If you are injured or suspect injury, you should visit a doctor as soon as possible.