Saturday, October 10, 2009

Achilles Pain - An Old Nemesis Makes Its Return

Achilles Pain - An Old Nemesis Makes Its Return
I've had bouts with Achilles pain before. At times, it was to the point of not being able to run for a long period of time. I learned that the root cause was weak, tight calves and over-training. I learned to stretch, did calf raises and didn't try to make each and every training run my longest and fastest.

For a few years, I found that balancing running and cycling was a great treatment for the problem and eventually it disappeared and until this week hadn't been an issue for about 10 years. I also took glucosamine sulfate supplements for a long period of time. Whether the glucosamine actually had an effect, I guess I will never really know, but it obviously didn't make things worse as the problem did, in fact, go away.

Two runs ago, while on a leisurely trail run at a park called Monora Park at the north end of my town, my left achilles started to make its presence known. The trails are by no means mountain material, but there are a few steep hills and I think that they were the biggest suspect.

Last night, I had heal pain for most of my 9.7km run and this morning and throughout the day, I walked with a noticeable limp. After playing hockey tonight, at which I played the full 60 minutes as there were no substitute players, the pain had actually gone away.

My big concern is that in 7 days, I'm running 25km around Fanshawe Lake in London, Ontario. It is a trail run, however, hills are at a premium and the course is fairly flat. Hopefully, Mother Nature will finally turn the tap off on Southern Ontario and there won't be much running through mud on Saturday.

My plan is to keep away from running for a couple of days and then try some light running. If it feels good, that's great. If the pain returns, I'll shut it down until Saturday and hope for the best.

Here's a little primer on Achilles Tendinitis:

What causes it?
  • Rapid increase in training.
  • Improperly stretched calf muscles.
  • Weak calf muscles.
  • Improper footwear.
  • Lack of rest and recovery.

How can it be prevented?

  • Do calf muscle strengthening excercises.
  • Always stretch before running.
  • Shorten your stride.
  • Do hill training.

What are the symptoms?

  • Pain between the base of the heel and the calf muscle.
  • Lump may appear just above heel as a result of scar tissue build-up.
  • Swelling over the achilles tendon.
  • Redness over the tendon.
  • Creaking when moving the ankle.

How can it be treated?

  • Stay off your feet! Up to two weeks without running may be necessary - or even more.
  • Apply ice directly to the swollen spot.
  • Put a pad or insert in the heel of your shoe to lessen the strain on the tendon.
  • Light calf raises after the pain has subsided.
  • Light stretching after the pain has subsided - no stretching while the pain is still there - this just aggravates the problem.
  • Try glucosamine sulfate. Unfortunately, the effects of glucosamine only kick in after around 60 days of continuous daily use.
  • Keep up the fluid intake and make sure your nutritional intake is more than adequate.

The important thing is to listen to your body and stop the abuse at the first sign of an injury like this or any other injury for that matter.

No comments:

Post a Comment