Contributed by Sean Huffman MS, ATC, PT & Amy San Filippo PT, MPT, DPT
The Achilles tendon is a tough band of fibrous tissue that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone (calcaneus). The gastrocnemius and soleus muscles (calf muscles) form one band of tissue, which becomes the Achilles tendon at the low end of the calf. The Achilles tendon then inserts into the calcaneus.
The Achilles tendon is the largest and strongest tendon in the body. When the calf muscles flex, the Achilles tendon pulls on the heel, allowing us to stand on our toes when walking or running. Despite its strength, the Achilles tendon is vulnerable to injury, such as Achilles Tendonitis, especially late in the MIT season.
Achilles Tendonitis is a common condition that is caused by repetitive or intense strain on the Achilles Tendon. Failing to maintain adequate calf muscle flexibility or not following a proper training program are some mistakes that put runners & walkers at risk for developing Achilles tendonitis.
We will work with you to prevent Achilles Tendonitis. The list of things to work on will include maintaining core & lower extremity strength, adhering to the MIT Training Schedule, a regular post-run stretching routine, and properly fitting shoes and inserts.
To maintain shoe traction and cushion, we suggest replacing your running & walking shoes regularly (350 - 400 miles is the typical lifespan) and alternating shoes every training day. Be sure to stop by Fleet Feet + FrontRunner where the experienced staff will find a shoe that is built with the proper stability and cushion for you.
Please remember to stretch (two different methods for Achilles stretching are shown below) after your run or walk, even more than before your run. Perform each of these stretches 5 for 30 seconds each, twice daily. We also suggest that you avoid stretching first thing in the morning until you’ve warmed up with a brief walk or run, or the dynamic warmup taught earlier in the season.
If you have pain and/or tightness in your Achilles Tendon, please try RICE. Reminder: that stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.
Please avoid pushing through pain and do not continue running if you are limping. Instead, please contact us at Fit For Life Physical Therapy for a free injury screen at Lewis Center (inside Fleet Feet): 614-981-2065 or Upper Arlington (inside FrontRunner): 614-981-1979.
Sean & Amy
Fit For Life Physical Therapy