Do you know how the Achilles tendon got its name?
Google it, I won’t bore you with details 😉
It’s safe to say that it can be a vulnerable spot for runners. It makes up approximately 25-30% of running related injuries. Why is this? Let’s take a look…
- It gets loaded a LOT — Probably no surprise. There is a lot of stress that gets placed on the Achilles tendon during the push off phase of running. Hilly terrain and speed work stress it a bit more.
- Stiff ankle/poor mobility — This is really common with older runners (40 years and up). This can create an everting (turning out) of the heel and excessive stress across the tendon.
- Lack of calf strength and power — The achilles tendon is the tissue that connects the calf muscle to the heel. Some runners don’t have good strength and power, and as the run distance progresses the Achilles and calf can’t handle the load.
- Toe running — “Prancing” type running. These runners land too much on the front of the foot, this puts excessive stress on the Achilles and calf.
- Finally, changing shoes — There is a big buzz of minimal or zero drop shoes. The problem is that many of us DON’T have the Achilles/calf mobility to make that change. Going from a 8-12 mm heel drop to 0 drop requires more Achilles length.
Prevention is the key. To summarize…
1) Avoid excessive speed work/hill work
2) Work on calf mobility and strength
3) Focus on a mid-foot strike underneath you
4) Finally, if changing to a low/zero drop shoe do it gradually and work on Achilles/calf stretching
If you suffer from Achilles/calf pain, we specialize in evaluating and treating it.
Charlie Boeyink MPT, OCS, CWC
Physical Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, USAT Triathlon Coach
Cadence Physical Therapy and Wellness
Cadence Performance Coaching