Podiatrists see a lot of running injuries, especially from patients who are new to the sport. Whether you’re running for fitness or fun getting an injury can stop a running routine in its tracks. In this series of blog posts we will outline the most common running injuries and their treatments. Our first installation of the series deals with a running injury that affects 50% of runners during their lives, Achilles tendonitis.
Achilles tendonitis is an inflammation of the Achilles tendon, the thick band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the calf muscle. It is the thickest tendon in the body and for good reason, it is the mechanism that makes walking and running possible.
While Achilles tendonitis is most commonly caused by an acute injury of the tendon, it can also be caused over long periods by repetitive irritation of the tendon, something common in runners. These injuries vary from mild to severe, with the more severe injuries often resulting in a ruptured tendon.
While it may not always be possible to avoid Achilles tendonitis caused by injuries you can take steps to greatly reduce the likelihood of it with good running habits. If you are running every day, stop, instead take days off between runs. These “rest days” can be helpful in allowing muscles and tendons the time to heal from workouts. Also, take time to stretch both before and after runs to increase the flexibility of the tendon.
Treatment for achilles tendon injuries can be conservative if the problem is still in its initial stages. Oral anti-inflammatory medicines can help ease pain, and ice can be applied to help reduce inflammation as well. Additionally your podiatrist can create a custom orthotic device which can be very helpful in patients where their Achilles tendon problems are caused by either flat feet or pronation, which is an inward rolling of the foot while walking. Also, you podiatrist can prescribe a device called a night brace, which is worn while sleeping to help keep the tendon stretched while sleeping.