How to Avoid the Most Common Resolution Injuries: Achilles Pain

Achilles Heel

We are almost through January! The hardest part of sticking to a resolution is behind you. Now you have adopted a new lifestyle, congratulations! In our first blog in this series we broke down shin splints, how they occur, when to train through the pain, and how to stop them from coming back. Now we are moving down the leg to a small, yet crucial, tendon that deserves a lot more credit than it gets, the Achilles tendon.

 

What does my Achilles tendon actually do?

To many people, the Achilles tendon seems like a relatively inconsequential tendon that connects your calves to your heel. While this is true, the Achilles tendon is also responsible for nearly every movement your foot makes. It is the largest tendon in your entire body and it allows you to walk, run, jump, and reach items stored on the top shelf. In short, if your Achilles is not in good shape, you won’t enjoy exercise without pain, so it’s good practice to keep your Achilles strong!

 

What causes Achilles pain?

Achilles tendon pain can be caused by several different factors. The most common Achilles pain will be irritation caused from exercises that engage your calf muscles. In some circumstances, your Achilles could rupture, a tear of the tendon that people have likened to being shot. Obviously there is a wide range of pain that you could be feeling related to your Achilles tendon, and they can be caused by a few factors. The factors that we see are overworking the tendon, incorrect shoes, and failing to properly stretch before exercising. 

 

Ease into your workouts!

The main injuries we see for nearly all muscles or tendons, Achilles included, is overwork. Soreness is your way of knowing that you have added stress to your body from your exercise. A light soreness is good! However, when that soreness starts to cross the threshold into what you would consider pain, you need to take a step back. The best way to keep your Achilles pain free and continue to build its strength is to progressively build your calf muscles. Our calves tend to be a muscle group that can go forgotten in our exercises, but it does not take much to tone and build your calves, and your Achilles will reap the rewards.

The simplest exercise for your calves and Achilles are calf raises. Simply stand on a step with the back half of your feet hanging off, then get onto your tip-toes, it’s that easy!

Source: Runner's World

Your calves are also a muscle group that benefit from multiple training sessions per week. If you slowly build up your Achilles strength with calf raises while making sure you are not over exerting your Achilles with high-impact training, you will avoid pain and build strength so you can take on more intensity in your workouts.

As always, if you are experiencing pain in your workouts, especially while running in the case of Achilles pain, take a break from running and choose a lower impact exercise until your pain goes away.

 

Shoes that are stable, but not too rigid.

If you’ve ready any of our blogs before, you know that we want you to choose shoes with superior support. Typically, these shoes are more rigid than a lot of the lightweight running shoes you can find in stores. Your best running shoes will bend at the toe box, where your feet bend, and be rigid throughout. However, if your shoes are too rigid, your Achilles tendon will not be given the freedom to perform its main job, providing mobility to your feet. 

You can check out our guide on selecting the right shoes for a full rundown, but as we said above, you want shoes that are flexible at the toe box (near where your laces end) and are supportive and sturdy from the toe box to your heel. 

Another form of support that can alleviate pain are our custom orthotics. Over pronation of the foot when walking or running is a leading cause of Achilles Tendonitis. Our digital foot scanner and pressure mapping will tell us where your pressure points are and if your feet over pronate when walking or running. From there, we will be able to print your custom orthotics to your exact specifications to help align your feet and stop over pronation.

 

Take a minute to stretch!

One of the easiest ways to stretch your calves and Achilles before exercising is with a simple wall stretch. Simply stand a little further than arms-length from a wall and put one leg back. Then lean into the wall with your arms outstretched while keeping both of your heels on the ground. Hold for 30 seconds and switch. This should give your calves and Achilles a great stretch so they do not go into your workout cold.

Source: Runner's World

We hope you are well on your way to achieving your goals for the year! If you are getting started, great! Use these tips to make sure you stay on the right track and don’t get sidelined.

 

If you are experiencing foot or ankle pain of any time, our experienced team of podiatrists throughout Middle Tennessee are here to help. Schedule your appointment today at one of our offices in Nashville, Smyrna, Brentwood, Hermitage, Mt. Juliet, Lebanon, Gallatin, or Waverly to start your journey towards pain free feet.

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