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Saturday, April 03, 2010

I am training for the 2010m Oxfam Trailwalker and feel like I have strained my Achilles Tendon

Hi Gary
I am training for the Oxfam Trailwalker and have experienced some discomfort and tightness in my left Achilles’ heel which is worrying me. This is my second year for the Trailwalker, and am relatively fit and active all year round (running and walking) – but never felt this time of thing before. Its more discomfort than pain, but came about quite suddenly on a short/hilly run on Tuesday night. I have good shoes and orthotics and stretch before and after every training session plus take a yoga class once a week. I am up to about 60kms training over about 4 days (Thursday – Sun) and have been going strong. But I actually had to stop my run on Tues because of the pain/discomfort. Wednesday it was still sore, and I couldn’t
train because I was too busy, but did a few stretches (off a ledge up and down on the ball of my foot). Today it’s better but I can just feel a burning sensation in my heel and it still feels really tight. Should I stop training for a bit? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Gary Responds:
Have a close look at the image to the left.  Where you see the red strips underlying the Achilles tendon is most likely to be the source of the burning discomfort you are describing.

While you may have strained your Achilles, it is more probably that running uphill on uneven terrain has strained one or more of  the small muscles that stabilise the ankle and plantar flex the foot: Most probably Flexor Hallucis Longus which is easily strained when running up steep slopes.

This will be felt as a hard, tender region under and to the inside of the Achilles.  If the pain is on the outside of the Achilles then you may have strained a muscle called Peroneus Brevis.

The treatment is the same no matter what:  

  • Deep tissue massage of the affected muscles.  This is best done by a professional massage therapist.  It is painful.  Do once a week for at least three weeks or for as long as it takes to be completely pain free.
  • Fit a pair of Formthotics Shock Stop into your shoes asap.
  • Stretch the ankle once or twice a day but only gently.
  • Soak your leg each day for 40 minutes in tepid water with a large handful of Epsom Salts.
  • Do not take any anti inflammatories for these reasons.
  • Commence your training the day after your first deep tissue massage.  Make the training gentle and progressive each day.
Follow these guidelines and you will never look back.  All the best with the Oxfam Trailwalker!


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