Running With Richelle – Achilles Tendonitis

January 18, 2019


What is Achilles Tendonitis?

The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the human body. It is the cord of tissue below your calf and above your heel. It points your foot and raises you up on your tiptoes. Achilles tendonitis is a common problem that occurs when the tendon becomes irritated and inflamed resulting in heel pain. There are a number of activities that place extreme loading forces on the Achilles tendon. Running, especially uphill running, is definitely one of them.


Signs and Symptoms

  • Gradual onset of pain and tenderness in the Achilles tendon often made worse with activity.
  • Pain and stiffness along the Achilles tendon first thing in the morning.
  • Swelling and tenderness of the Achilles tendon.


Treatment Suggestions

REST! There is no quick magical fix when it comes to tendonitis. You cannot make the pain and inflammation settle if you continue to push through your pain. Resting doesn’t mean you have to become a temporary couch potato. Try cross-training activities such as swimming or cycling (as long as they are pain free). This will maintain your cardiovascular fitness while your Achilles tendon gets a much needed rest.

Heel lifts Purchase a heel lift like the one shown in the picture below. This can be worn temporarily to reduce strain on the Achilles tendon. Even if you only have Achilles tendonitis in one heel make sure you still put an insert in both shoes so there’s no asymmetry.


Eccentric strengthening exercises. Standing on a step rise up on your toes then lift your good leg. Very slowly lower your injured heel towards the floor. Aim to repeat 15 times and do this exercise twice daily. Some discomfort during the exercise is okay but it should not linger. If you have increased pain after doing eccentrics stop the exercises and consider seeing a physiotherapist to get some individualized care.

Calf Stretches: There are 2 calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus). In order to stretch the gastroc you need to keep the back leg straight. To stretch the soleus bend the back leg. Keep the heel on the floor. Hold stretch 30-60 seconds (no bouncing). Repeat 3 times. Always stretch after you run not before!

Correct any training errors

  • Did you recently start or return to running? Maybe you progressed your distance/pace too quickly.
  • Did you recently start hill training or running hillier routes than normal? Maybe you did too many hill repeats or you ran hills too many times in one week.
  • Did you recently start doing any cross-training exercises that involve a lot of repetitive hopping, skipping or jumping?
  • Have you recently changed footwear? Did it involve transitioning to a more minimalist shoe without a heel?


Basically think back to just before your heel pain started. Often with runners it’s a result of a recent change so figure out what that was and don’t make the same mistake again!


When to seek professional help!

If you try the above treatment techniques and are still experiencing pain; I would suggest booking an appointment with a physiotherapist (That’s me!) who can do an assessment and come up with an individualized treatment plan. This may or may not include taping your Achilles, dry needling, cupping and soft tissue release.

As always, if you have any questions about ANY type of injury, running or otherwise, feel free to contact me at the clinic!



Posted in Uncategorized by Pat Moore