Top Seven Achilles Tendonitis Prevention Methods for Runners

Brian S. Winters, MD September 17th, 2018

Treat and Prevent Your Runners’ Achilles Tendonitis

As the weather becomes warmer, more and more runners can be found out and about in pursuit of health and personal improvement. Unfortunately, after the long winter layoff runners’ risk of one of the most common running injuries - inflammation and/or rupture of the Achilles tendon, increases. If you or someone you love are in need of Achilles tendonitis prevention and support this season, Rothman Institute can provide education and care tailored specifically for your running regime.

How the Achilles Tendon Affects Your Running

The largest and strongest tendon in the body, the Achilles tendon is located at the rear of the bottom half of the lower leg and connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. It primarily functions to flex the foot into the downward (pointed) position and is heavily utilized by the body in the mechanics of running. As a result, the Achilles ruptures more frequently than any other tendon because of the tremendous pressures placed on it during competitive sports.

The runner’s Achilles tendon is at risk for two primary forms of injury:

  • Achilles Tendonitis: chronic inflammation of the tendon

  • Achilles Tendon Rupture: an actual tear in the tendon, ranging from mild to complete severance

The Causes Of Achilles Tendonitis In Runners

There are a number of risk factors that can lead to Achilles tendonitis, including:

  • Improper and/or insufficient conditioning: Any tendon or muscles which have not been properly trained or conditioned may be too weak to support athletic activity, leading to an Achilles injury

  • Overuse: Doing too much too soon places excessive strain on the Achilles tendon (as well as the whole body) and prohibits the recovery process. Over time, small tears and general degeneration will culminate in inflammation and pain

  • Skipping the warm-up and cool-down stretches: This can equate with a “too much too soon” situation, with the same results on the body’s tissues

  • Running-specific hazards: Inadequate footwear and running on uneven ground can lead to biomechanical problems over time such as plantar fasciitis and Achilles injuries

So what can you do to prevent injury and keep running?

Top Seven Achilles Tendonitis Prevention Methods for Runners

  1. Warm Up and Cool Down Every Time: A well structured warm up and cool down routine not only prevents injury, but also prepares the heart, lungs, muscles, and joints for sustained strenuous activity

  2. Incorporate Strengthening Exercises: Work with an athletic trainer or other sports medicine professional to incorporate proper strength training techniques for the lower back, shoulders, and legs

  3. Build Your Balance: Any activity that practices your ability to keep your balance contributes to proprioception (your body’s ability to know where its limbs are at any given time)

  4. Perform Plyometric Drills: Plyometric exercises include explosive movements such as jumping, skipping, and hopping to condition and prepare the muscles, tendons and ligaments in the lower legs and ankle joints

  5. Invest in Good Footwear Designed for Running: These will keep your ankles stable, cushion your foot and heel, and support your foot and lower leg during the running motions

  6. Eat for Health and Sustained Activity: Get plenty of protein, produce, calcium, vitamin D, and magnesium in your daily diet

  7. Get Plenty of Rest: To avoid overtraining and burnout, be sure to incorporate 1-2 days of rest per week and 1-2 months per year away from your sport

With the right team at your side, Achilles tendonitis prevention can become a positive, empowering way of life that keeps you healthy, running and beating your personal best for a long time to come. If you have more questions or are already experiencing pain or weakness, your first step should be to consult your physician right away. For specialized treatment, visit us here or contact us at 1-800-321-9999.

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