Anyone Here Battling Achilles Tendonitis?
About 2.5 weeks ago I went to the gym and hit it harder than usual, including some jogging on the treadmill. I almost NEVER jog/run on the treadmill but that day I did and my NB Minimus shoes weren't a good idea for that, as I've got a bad stride/heel strike and before I knew it my right heel was hurting some. I kept with it and about 7 minutes into the jog the pain was worse so I stopped.
2 weeks later and the heel still hurt, with no real improvement. Went to a foot/ankle specialist and got x-rayed and he diagnosed me with achilles tendonitis. He said I need to stretch before exercise (especially the calf), and ice the achilles after.
The last few days it's been much improved. I play in a men's over 35yoa turf soccer league and was able to play this past Thursday. I have no match for the next 2 weeks so I'm going to stick to just weightlifting and some light walking on the treadmill (it's too cold to walk outside) or perhaps exercise bike?
The doctor said that this thing will "take weeks" to heal, and even then it could get worse or come back at any time. He said the next step, if it gets worse, is to do physical therapy.
I didn't exercise/do much of anything for 2 weeks and it didn't get any better. Once I started actively/forcefully stretching it I saw some rapid improvement within a few days. But I would have hoped by now, almost 3 weeks later, that it would be fully healed yet it's not.
I'm 41yoa. Went low-carb primal about 2.5 years ago and dropped ~75lbs in a year and have pretty effortlessly maintained that loss while also building some lean muscle, mostly because I now truly enjoy working out (I typically don't over do-it though, believe me!) and being active now in my 40's, after being sedentary and obese since age 9. My attitude, starting yesterday, is to "play through" the achilles because doing nothing didn't help at all.
Anyone else deal with this? Any advice or experience with this that you can share is appreciated. When I asked the specialist (I happen to live less than a 1 minute drive from a world-renowned orthopedic/sports medicine specialist center) he just stressed to me to stretch well before, and ice after. So that's what I plan on doing.
Fortunately, I haven't had this but family members have. They've had good success rolling the arch of their foot on a tennis or lacrosse ball. It seemed to resolve the issue quickly and most of them still do it daily to prevent recurrence. They also use a foam roller for whole body rolling, including the calves. The tennis ball seems to be the key, though.
Still struggling with this. Went to see an ortho doctor last week and he said to wait it out and if it doesn't get better then he would prescribe physical therapy. It's been a week and it's not much better, so I'm going to call and try to get the PT started sooner rather than later.
Originally Posted by lyn c nito
For my recent case of achilles tendonitis I've been stretching, but only after exercising, and doing eccentric calf raises. I stand on a stair and lower myself very slowly down as far as I can (without shifting my toes or forefoot), then raise myself up onto my toes (or ball of the foot, depending on foot strength). This stretches the tendon and strengthens it along with your feet and calves. I took it slow, starting with only 10 at a time, twice a day, and after two weeks my achilles are both feeling much better. This idea was passed on by a fellow barefoot runner, not a doctor, so (obviously) your mileage may vary.
Eccentric Calf Raises - YouTube
After ~3 weeks of the achilles not getting better, I called the ortho specialist's office and asked them if I should go ahead and try the next step, physical therapy.
Right after I said to myself, "screw it. I'm gonna try the eccentric calf raises." I did maybe 5 reps, then an hour or so later did 10 reps. I noticed that the pain in my achilles, which was anywhere from very sharp/painful (about 15% of the time), to sore (about 60% of the time), to no pain/very little soreness the remainder of the time, changed to a non-sharp, constant very dull pain. A different kind of pain - more an inflamed soreness feeling. Hard to describe, but I must say, I was encouraged as it was better than the often sharp pain.
This morning I woke up and noticed that the usual very sore/very stiff achilles was not as sore or as stiff as it's been every morning for the past 3 weeks. I was able to loosen it up much quicker than usual. This morning I did a set of 10 eccentric calf raises, then I did a few here or there during breaks (I was in a training class at work all day). At no time has the sharp pain come back!!! I still have the slight dull pain but I can tell it's decreasing as the day went on.
Just got home and did another set of 5 reps and will just continue to do some every once in a while. I realize I'm probably getting ahead of myself and should be more cautious but I can't say how thrilled I am at such rapid progress - I was sincerely worried that my ability to 'play'/fitness would be screwed due to this achilles. But now I'm pretty confident that this simple eccentric calf raise exercise will do the trick.
I did get a call back from the ortho doctor's office today saying they put a prescription for physical therapy in the mail today and that I should get it early next week and can choose a physical therapist to begin working with them. Even if the achilles is healed/the soreness is gone I may go just to see what they say so I can avoid this from happening in the future.
Thanks again for your advice!
I want to share my battles with Achilles pain and how I've beaten it back with a committed, heavy-duty Stairmaster regimen.
I'm a 50 year-old male and have been an inconsistent runner and consistent soccer player for 30 years. I have always had seriously tight calves and Achilles tendons. Although I'm generally a fast runner, I'm not flexible at all. I envy those folks that can squat flat-footed without their heels pulling up off the ground. I've dealt with heel pain all my life and have had bone spurs removed from both heels in the past with surgery - along with the corresponding Achilles reattachment for that procedure.
About two years ago, I took up a regular running program and had some great success getting healthy, dropping a lot of weight, and eventually increasing my mileage to about 45 miles a week. I had some improving half marathon times and was building for a marathon as I increased my mileage. I also was playing soccer in an adult league. I was feeling fit and healthy and confident and my foot problems seemed to finally be a thing of the past. But then the hammer fell on me and chronic Achilles pain erupted in short order on my right foot. For the next ten months I tried all sorts of programs to get back to running. I tried foam rolling, eccentric heel drops, stretching programs, and taking a month or two off. Each time I tried to start with some modest running, my heel pain immediately flared back up.
The pain for me was insertional, right above where the Achilles attaches to the heel. I could press my thumb on the area and it would hurt. When I ran, the pain would crop up with each step very quickly. The worst part was that I was limping noticeably with simple walking each time I got up from a chair or out of my car. If I ran even two or three miles at a slow pace, I would be limping the next day.
As I hit Thanksgiving last fall I was limping around, had lost my fitness from the year before, and was carrying extra weight again. I resigned myself to remedy this with surgery on my heel again after I had seen my doctor. However, I have a quality Stairmaster that I'd bought on Craigslist about ten years ago. The stairclimber has always been a go-to method for me to get a great cardio workout. I have used this equipment off and on for spells at gyms and at home for many years, but mainly as an augmentation to running or soccer. So, before I followed up on the referral my doctor had given to me for an orthopedic visit, I committed to working out an hour a day on my Stairmaster. After about four or five weeks the results became noticeable that I was moving with a great deal less pain in my heel. At about ten weeks, the pain had virtually gone away, my legs were stronger, and I was not limping at all. My conditioning was back on track and I started playing full field soccer again with no heel pain. That was a big deal for me!
I'm now a little past four months on this 7-hour-a-week Stairmaster commitment. It is a lot of hard work, but the results have really been well beyond my best expectations. I know a stairclimber can be a grind at times like any cardio equipment, it can be BORING. But, I setup my iPad and listen to music, read, watch Netflix, watch videos, etc. Some days I'm motivated and some days it is a real grind. If I cut a workout short one day then I make up the time the next day, so the numbers keep me motivated as well. Importantly, I also wear a heart rate monitor and keep my pulse at a challenging target level - not usually over the top but consistent. My fitness has been clearly improving as I've had to increase the levels on the machine to maintain the target heart rate zones. I don't use a StairMill, but a Freeclimber with independent foot pedals. This allows me to vary the step range from short and rapid to longer up and down strides. I also will work hands-free and not hold the rails to work on my balance and involve other leg muscles. As I work out, I also will vary my foot positioning on the pedals, hang my heels off the back, or work out for a spell up on the balls of my feet. I will keep things interesting by working in some tougher HIIT sessions once in a while. At times, I'll also work with some soft kettlebells for some light arm workout and this really pushes the hear rate up quickly.
I have been a lifelong Achilles heel sufferer. This rigorous stairclimber regimen has made a great difference for me without surgery or physical therapy. I believe the Stairmaster offers a focused strengthening of the muscles in the calves, and also duplicates some of the benefits of eccentric heel drop therapy.
The bottom line is that I feel great and can run without heel pain. Separately, I'm in great cardio shape, my blood pressure is under control, and I am back playing soccer without feeling I had to give up the sport because of Achilles pain.
I hope this helps someone else as well.
Kasey Cotulla 2015
That's a great story and consistent with the current thinking that gentle exercise/movement aids recovery from this type of injury. I had achilles tendonitis a few years ago during my transition to forefoot-strike (minimalist shoes) running, and I cut back my mileage but continued to run as my achilles healed (pun intended...)
Originally Posted by kcotulla
You don't mention whether you are a forefoot, midfoot or heel strike runner?
I stopped using minimalist shoes for all my running and switched to only using them for speed-work while wearing a shoe with a much bigger heel for the rest of my running.
Originally Posted by Sonoran hotdog
I am a forefoot and midfoot striker. Definitely not a heel striker. I generally land on the outside of my foot, particularly in the first mile or so of a run or until I'm loosened up and my ankle/foot is more flexible.
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