The Achilles tendons are the strongest in the human body, but that doesn't mean they can't be injured. One of the easiest ways to damage the Achilles tendon is by running.
Although running is a fantastic way to exercise and stay in shape, you can be injured if you're not careful. Achilles tendonitis is a painful condition where the tendons become inflamed from overuse or injury.
If you're an avid runner, the Sports Medicine Associates of San Antonio team provides you with the tips you require to avoid injury. Dr. Marque A. Allen is an expert, board-certified podiatrist who helps you overcome an Achilles tendon injury.
What is Achilles tendonitis?
The Achilles tendon is a large, strong band of tissue that connects the calf muscles to the heel bones on each leg. The role of the Achilles tendon is to lift your heel off the ground, allowing you to jump, run, and walk.
Although the Achilles tendon is extremely tough, they can become stressed and injured through various activities. Common Achilles tendon injuries include tendonitis, tendinosis, and complete rupture.
Achilles tendonitis happens when the tendon becomes inflamed from overuse. It often occurs when people stress the tendon too much by quickly increasing the length of their runs or the duration of workouts.
The symptoms of Achilles tendonitis vary, depending on the severity of the injury. It typically begins as an ache in the back of the leg and progresses to worsening pain with prolonged activity.
You may also experience stiffness and tenderness in the affected Achilles tendon that's often more pronounced in the morning but gets slightly better with movement.
How running affects your Achilles tendon
The Achilles tendons play a major role in your ability to run. As you run, the tendon works with your calf muscle to pull the heel up, which allows you the movement necessary for running.
Runners stress the Achilles tendons, especially when they run regularly. You risk Achilles tendonitis or tears without stretching or warming up the tendons.
Increasing the length or duration of your runs without taking steps to increase slowly often results in inflammation and pain in the Achilles tendon and tendonitis.
Footwear and running also play a role in the chances of developing Achilles tendonitis. Without the proper support, other tissues in your feet are stressed, putting more stress on the Achilles tendons.
If you're a runner, you must understand the proper ways to run safely and increase duration and distance correctly.
Tips to reduce the risk of tendonitis
As a runner, you must understand how to keep your legs and body safe from injury, especially the Achilles tendon.
Whether you've already suffered an injury or you're at risk for Achilles tendonitis, we provide you with the following tips to prevent reinjury or getting hurt in the first place:
Avoid running uphill
You don't have to stop running up hills completely. However, you need to be careful. Running on hills frequently puts a lot of pressure on the Achilles tendon, leading to tendonitis. Take it slow on the hills, and don't push harder than your body can handle.
Don't run on uneven ground
Running on uneven ground puts unneeded stress on the Achilles tendon, causing inflammation and pain. Make sure you choose a path on a paved road that's even to avoid injuring your Achilles tendon.
Wear supportive shoes
When running, shoes are essential to avoid pain and injuries. Invest in shoes that provide ample arch support and are comfortable and roomy to prevent unnecessary ankle and Achilles tendon strain.
Warm up and stretch
Warming up and stretching before running is key to preventing most injuries. Focus on stretching the calf muscles, ankles, and feet to avoid tightening or tears in tendons, ligaments, or cartilage.
Avoid repetitive stress
Repetitive stress increases your risk of Achilles tendonitis. Although running is a great exercise, doing other activities that allow the Achilles tendons to rest and avoid injury is crucial.
Increase the length of runs slowly
Increasing the length of your runs should be a slow process. Running longer distances too fast can injure your Achilles tendon and lead to tendonitis. Slowly increase the pace and distance of runs to avoid problems.
If you're suffering from Achilles tendonitis, call one of our conveniently located offices in Alamo Heights or San Antonio, Texas. You can also request an appointment with Dr. Allen on our website.