The Runner’s Enemy: Achilles Tendinitis

Even the most experienced runners are victim to injuries, which can strike without warning and with a devastating impact on our training schedules and ability to compete in competitions.

Among the most common running injuries is the feared, and extremely uncomfortable, Achilles tendinitis. At this point, it’s important to distinguish between this complaint and the much more serious condition of a snapped Achilles – something which requires hospitalisation and surgery!

Achilles tendinitis, while very painful, is not something that you need to be overly worried about; common sense and a few simple precautions will greatly reduce your risk of developing this complaint and it shouldn’t lead to lasting damage.

Check out this guide to knowing what Achilles tendinitis is, how it happens and what you can do to stop it.

What is it?

Achilles tendinitis is an inflammation of the tendon in the heel, often found in runners and athletes with heavy training schedules. It’s the result of the repeated stress placed on this part of the leg when you’re running. Each time you take a stride, several times your body weight is placed on this tendon.

What causes it?

A combination of factors can lead to a bout of Achilles tendinitis, though the most common is definitely overtraining. So, if you’re relatively new to running or you’re getting back into the swing the things after a break, remember to take it easy! Pushing yourself too hard and too fast will only lead to injuries that put you out of the loop for even longer.

Common sense should also tell that this strain of the lower legs muscles is increased if you’re overweight, which is all the more reason to eat healthily and shed a few pounds.

Wearing footwear that isn’t designed for running or is worn out by excessive use is also going to increase your risk of developing this condition. Your running shoes should incorporate gel and foam in the design for added support, so prioritise this when you’re treating yourself to new pair.

Nike Flyknit Running Shoe, available in a range of colours, £116.99, from Millet Sports

Nike Flyknit Running Shoe, available in a range of colours, £116.99, from Millet Sports

Nike running shoes are always a good choice if you want to reduce the risk of tendinitis; the designs from this brand incorporate something called ‘Nike Zoom Units’ in the heel, for optimum support and comfort.

UK readers can find a full range of Nike running shoes at Millet Sports. If you’re reading in the US, you can find an equally extensive range of Nike footwear at Road Runner Sports.

What’s the best course of treatment?

This definitely ties in with the previous point; when it comes to Achilles tendinitis, the best thing you can do, is prevent it happening in the first place.

However, should you be struck down by this condition, you should take a few days or even a week off from your training schedule and use ice packs on the area to reduce swelling and ease the discomfort.

You can also strengthen the affected muscles with certain exercise regimes, which you can do as you’re recovering. Take a look at this handy video for a demonstration of some of these exercises.

Hopefully, this guide will help you to avoid this painful and annoying complaint, and keep you on track with your running schedule.

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