If you enjoy the great outdoors, you already know that the Pacific Northwest is a hiker's dream. But today, we're going to talk about Achilles tendonitis, a subject that, if ignored, could put a damper on your hiking plans this season. Today I’m going to talk about how to Stop Achilles Tendonitis in Hikers.

Achilles tendonitis is a close cousin to plantar fasciitis, the most common cause of heel pain. That’s because It has many similarities to plantar fasciitis in terms of what causes it and how to treat it.  The culprit is the Achilles tendon, which can be found at the rear of your heel. It is joined to the ligament that is responsible for inflammation related to the plantar fascia.

Causes and Risk Factors for Developing Achilles Tendonitis in Hikers

Before going any further, let's first examine the causes and risk factors for developing Achilles tendinitis in hikers. We can avoid this overuse injury from disrupting our hiking excursions by recognizing these elements.

First, men are at higher risk for Achilles tendonitis. Also people with flat feet with a tendency to overpronate, tight calf muscles that put too much strain on the Achilles tendon, and even specific medical disorders like psoriasis and high blood pressure. The risk may also be increased by several drugs, including fluoroquinolones.

But there are additional causes to be aware of besides just personal ones.

  • Achilles tendonitis is more likely to occur if you run up hills frequently
  • Do not spend enough time warming-up
  • Wear boots that are worn out or aren’t appropriate for the type of hiking you’re doing.
  • Taking hikes that are very long or have a lot of elevation gain too soon after not hiking for many months.

Now let's look at the symptoms and talk about the treatments we have in our Seattle office.

Symptoms of Achilles Tendonitis in Hikers

There are various unique symptoms that define Achilles tendinitis. Here are some specifics to be aware of:

  • Just below the calf muscles, above the heel, hikers may feel a slight ache. While hiking, this soreness eventually gets worse.
  • Achilles tendonitis can cause pain, discomfort, and tenderness. These symptoms are most obvious when getting out of bed in the morning.
  • Squeezing the tendon's sides may cause sensitivity or severe pain, which is a sign of inflammation and damage to the affected tissue.
  • In some instances, the tissue of the injured tendon may produce nodules or thicker patches. These nodules may also aggravate existing pain and suffering.

It's critical to get help right away if you notice any of these symptoms. Achilles tendonosis and Achilles tendon rupture, two additional disorders linked to Achilles tendon strain, might develop if treatment is put off. If Achilles tendinitis is not completely cured, these more severe conditions are more likely to happen.

 Therapies For Hikers with Achilles Tendonitis

  • Rest-hiking with Achilles tendinitis will make the problem worse and take longer to heal. Resting the injured foot is crucial for the tendon to heal completely.
  • Ice-can effectively reduce inflammation by being applied to the affected area for 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off. This can bring about much-needed relief.
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs-taking anti-inflammatory drugs as directed can help with pain relief and inflammation reduction, which promotes healing.
  • Walking boot-for a full recovery from Achilles tendinitis, it may occasionally be required to immobilize the foot with a walking boot. Your podiatrist will advise you on proper duration and usage.
  • Custom orthotics-we provide both conventional and cutting-edge 3D printed orthotics at our Seattle office. These special inserts can enhance your foot biomechanics and lower your risk of reoccurring Achilles tendinitis.
  • Stretching the calf muscles-Achilles tendinitis can be exacerbated by tight calf muscles. Regular calf stretches can help lower your risk of recurrence. You may also want to consider using an Achilles splint if you have significant tightness. 
  • MLS laser therapy-cold laser technology is used in this state-of-the-art procedure to quicken the healing process. Your recovery from Achilles tendinitis can be greatly accelerated with this revolutionary treatment.

5 Crucial Actions to Prevent Achilles Tendonitis in Hikers

It's always better to prevent developing Achilles tendonitis than to treat it. Here's how!

  • Invest in hiking boots or shoes that are appropriate for the amount of hiking you do. Download my book, "How to Buy Hiking Boots to Prevent Plantar Fasciitis," to learn about choosing the best hiking boots and preventing both plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis.
  • Stretching-it's important to warm up properly before a hike. Include static calf muscle stretches, holding each one for at least 90 seconds. Include dynamic body stretches as well to help your muscles get ready for the physical demands of hiking. 
  • Replace your insole-if you don't need orthotics, think about using an over-the-counter insert, like Powerstep or Redi-thotics, to replace the insole of your hiking boots. These inserts can offer more cushioning and support, which will ease the strain on your Achilles tendon.
  • Increase distance and elevation gain gradually-increase both of these by only 10% a week and avoid pushing yourself too hard. This enables your body to adapt and become stronger over time and that includes your Achilles tendon.
  • Add strength and flexibility exercises in your training program to lower your risk for an Achilles injury. Consider weightlifting, yoga, and light jogging or elliptical training.

For more information about how to stop Achilles tendonitis on and off the trail, watch my video "How to Stop Heel Pain in Hikers" below.


In conclusion, if you want to keep hiking and prevent Achilles tendonitis use the 5 actions we just talked about. However, if you notice symptoms of this condition, give us a call right away. Let’s get you treated so you can enjoy the rest of the hiking season.

Dr. Rion Berg
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A podiatrist in North Seattle treating families for over 40 years.