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The Achilles tendon links the back of the heel to the two primary calf muscles. The tendon tightens and gets irritating when it is overworked (tendinitis). It accounts for 11% of all running injuries, and 8% of runnersworld.com poll respondents had it in the previous year.
WHO’S AT RISK?
Runners with tight, weak calves who substantially increase training (particularly hills and speedwork) are at risk.
CAN YOU RUN THROUGH IT?
“If you feel any discomfort during running or afterward, stop,” advises Amol Saxena, D.P.M., a sports podiatrist in Palo Alto, Calif.
If you catch a mild strain early on, a few days off may be all you need to recover. If you continue to run as normal, you may get a severe case that takes six months to resolve.
Apply ice five times a day. Calves can be strengthened through eccentric heel drops: On a step, stand on the balls of your feet. Raise yourself to your full height on both feet. Remove your stronger foot off the step after you’ve gotten to your feet. Reduce the pressure on your wounded foot by lowering your heel below the step. Recover your balance and place your second foot on the step. Perform 20 repetitions. Pool running, elliptical machines, and swimming are all excellent options, but cycling should be avoided unless it’s not unpleasant.
PREVENT A RELAPSE
Strong calves, as well as frequent heel dips, protect your Achilles from flare-ups, according to Dr. Price. Wearing flip-flops and high heels, as well as rigorous calf stretching, might aggravate the Achilles.
Shannon Rowbury, a bronze winner in the 1500 meters at the 2009 World Championships, uses compression stockings to ease Achilles soreness during strenuous sessions.
She says, “It’s made a significant impact.”
Ankle Alert: How to Proceed
- Stop: Even when you aren’t jogging, you have acute discomfort and swelling above your heel. Standing on your toes produces discomfort.
- Caution: After your run, you’ll feel a dull ache around your heel that will last for a while but will go away if you freeze it.
- Run: When squeezing the tendon, start at the heel and work your way up to your leg, toward your calf, there is no discomfort.
Meanwhile, check out our top picks below to tackle Achilles Tendinitis:
Best Achilles Sleeves For Running
Best Women’s Foot Arch Supports for Running Shoes