Is Achilles Pain Affecting Your Run?

Is Achilles Pain Affecting Your Run?

If you’ve ever experienced Achilles tendon pain while running or training for a race, you know it’s a frustrating issue. Pain in the lower calf or back of the heel can limit your intervals, and hill workouts, and may even cause you to limp the day after a run. Your Achilles tendon plays a key role in your running performance during training and on race day.

Your Achilles tendon is an elastic structure located on the back of your lower leg. It connects your two calf muscles, the gastrocnemius (larger, upper muscle) and the soleus (flatter, lower calf muscle) to the back of your heel. When healthy, this tendon helps you lift your heels off the floor and push off when you run. When painful, this tendon will make running uphill and running at faster speeds more difficult. Achilles pain or tendinitis is typically located right over the tendon and usually does not refer to other locations. It does not cause tingling, numbness, or other symptoms. However, it can be quite tender to the touch and even swollen at times

Why Does My Achilles Hurt When I Run?

Runners often struggle with Achilles tendon pain, tendinitis, or tendinopathy while training for a race. All three of these three issues are typically caused by the same problem: you are loading your Achilles tendon with more than it is trained to handle. This is an elastic structure and can be overloaded like any other structure in our body. Consider common reasons why your tendon may be overloaded:

  • Running too fast
  • The poor running form causing overpronation (rolling inward of the foot)
  • Running too many hills or hills that are too steep
  • Repetitive running without sufficient recovery time between runs
  • Poor squat form during cross-training (knees going past toes)

Seek Help at SOS PHYSIO Rehab

If you already have Achilles pain or tendinitis, it’s time to run smart. Our goal as physical therapists is to always modify rather than tell you to quit. The risk of Achilles tendon rupture is very low in long-distance runners. That means that modifying your training in smart ways can still allow you to run. Consider reducing or eliminating hill and speed workouts. Focus on at least 10 minutes of gradual warm-up from slow walking to fast walking before starting your training runs. Dynamic stretching is key to properly warm up your Achilles before a run and can help reduce pain.  Focus training on tempo and long runs and low plenty of recovery by running every other day. It’s always better to finish your race than be sidelined completely.

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