How to Prevent the Pain of Achilles Tendonitis

As summer approaches we'd all like to make sure our feet will take us where we want to go and allow us to fully participate in the sports activities we love. Unfortunately some of us are more prone to developing certain types of foot problems, such as Achilles tendonitis.

What is Achilles tendonitis?

The Achilles tendon located in the back of your ankle is the largest and strongest tendons in the body; it can withstand up to 1,000 pounds of force. When this structure, also known as the heel cord, becomes inflamed Achilles tendonitis develops. If you ignore this pain, it can rupture which will require surgical intervention.

What Are the Risk Factors?

Many factors can lead to Achilles tendonitis:

  • Faulty foot structure such as flat feet

  • Equinus or tight calf muscles

  • Overuse mainly through physical activity

What You Can Do To Prevent Achilles Tendonitis

Fortunately there's a lot you can do to prevent Achilles tendonitis. Some of these fixes are mechanical in nature. For example, if you have flat feet getting fit with custom orthotics will prevent your feet from pronating, which can cause undo pulling on your Achilles. In addition, if you have tight calf muscles you can use special stretching techniques to alleviate this problem.

All the other prevention techniques are related to how you exercise.

Purchase Shoes Made for Your Sport
Buying supportive shoes is essential and wearing shoes that are designed specifically for your sport is a must. Be sure to go to a store where employees are trained to fit shoes to different types of feet. Shoes should also be replaced every 500 miles.

Vary Your Terrain
In Seattle you have lots of opportunity to get a great workout on hills. But don't overdo it or you'll increase you Achilles tendonitis risk. Vary the type of terrain you run or hike on from day to day or even on the same day. Do hills one day and run Greenlake another day. Mix it up.

Don't Forget to Warm-up
Both new and veteran athletes should warm up before working out. Dynamic warm-ups for runners are a great way to go.

Gradually Increase Your Training Time
You might want to get ready to run that race with your friends and end up overdoing it. Unfortunately your Achilles can't adapt that quickly to a huge increase in your training regimen. Do your Achilles a favor--increase training time by no more than 10% a week to avoid injury.

Change Up Your Exercise Routine
You might love to run but it's great to take a break by swimming or cycling to reduce strain on your Achilles.

How to Treat Achilles Tendonitis

At home

  • Pay attention to your body. If you're feeling pain in the back of your heel, back off from your exercise

  • Icing the back of your heel will help reduce inflammation

  • Toss your worn out shoes

  • Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication for a period of time. Note: Please consult your physician before taking any medication.
     

At the podiatrist's office

  • Immobilizing the foot can reduce imflammation and pain; this is most commonly done with a walking boot
  • Getting fit with custom orthotics - see above.
  • Receiving MLS laser therapy for pain relief and reduction of inflammation
  • Getting referred to physical therapy for strengthening exercises, soft-tissue massage/mobilization, and gait and running education.

Call us today at 206-368-7000 for an appointment. Often same day for emergencies and less than 2 weeks for chronic foot pain. You can also request an appointment online.

For more information about heel pain in runners download our eBook, "The Complete Guide to Stopping Heel Pain in Runners".

For chronic heel pain, download our eBook, "Stop Living With Stubborn Heel Pain".

In addition, our newsletter "Foot Sense" comes out monthly.  You can also check out our past issues. Every issue contains a mouth-watering recipe and can be printed out for easier reading!

Seattle foot and ankle specialist, Dr. Rion Berg offers foot care for patients with bunions, heel pain, diabetes, fungal toenails, ingrown nails, and surgical solutions when needed to residents of Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood and other surrounding suburbs.

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