How I Defeated Achilles Tendonitis

bachilles

I have often been nagged by aches and pains that aren’t too bad, but just won’t go away. I actually enjoy going to Physical Therapy, but not so much in a Pandemic — plus my insurance doesn’t pay for it. I have had a time or two when the pain was either bad enough or I was in the midst of training for something and I had to seek out help. Even with the help of a great PT, it can still take diligent months of exercises to feel relief.

When my Achilles Tendon started to act up in the Summer, I dropped my mileage and I began to explore various remedies. Dropping my mileage definitely helped with the more intense pain, but the ache continued to linger. Until as suddenly as it came, it seemed to go away (fingers crossed — so far, so good). Here’s what I felt to be the most important contributors to my healing.

bfitfivefriday

I’m linking up with My First 5K and MoreRunning With Attitude, Runs with PugsZenaida and Run Laugh Eat Pie for Fit Five Friday

Daily Foam Rolling
With particular attention to my calves — not forgetting to work toward the inside (distal) side of the calves, too! Also paying attention to my feet and hamstrings. I often did more — especially on run days — but if I was short on time this is what I hit.

gwy foot exercises 1
Foot exercises to keep our feet happy; even if I don’t look happy, LOL!

Foot Stretches
I started out with almost daily foot stretches/strengtheners, too, but as the pain subsided I typically did these only pre-run. I put up a video on my YouTube Channel here. I do the foot holds on the ball almost every day — the other exercises I usually only do on the days I run. 

Kept my mileage low
Although I’ve had the occasional aches in my Achilles over the years, it usually went away quickly. Until it didn’t. Until it was severe enough to cause limping. Not training for anything, I had no desire for a serious injury. Dropping my mileage was a no-brainer for me.

Calf Exercises
It’s all connected, of course, and often a pain in one area is actually cause by an imbalance in another area. The Achilles attaches to the calves, so for months I did walking on my toes, my heels, and the sides of my feet most days. I haven’t been doing these as much lately, as I’ve found the other things I do seem to keep my Achilles happy — so far. These are always good drills to do, though, especially if you’re a trail runner! 

You can see what I used to do in this video here, although I’ve changed up my routine quite a bit with some of the things I’ve since learned.

gwy foot compression2

Best thing for unhappy feet!

Foot Compression
It’s not what it sounds like! Basically it’s draping your foot over a ball and putting your weight on it. I have about five spots that I move through. This is also great for Plantar Fasciitis! You will note that I don’t actually roll my feet in this practice — and I very rarely roll my feet at all any more. Even if I’m just feeling a slight twinge in the morning, this will usually make it go away.

Final Thoughts
Of course I am not a medical professional or a physical therapist — you know the drill! I can’t diagnose what’s causing your pain. I can tell you that if you suffer with foot pain, there’s a good chance these practices will help you, too. I have slowly increased my mileage (although it’s definitely still not high mileage, not even close) without feeling a return of the problem — so far, knock on wood.

I can also say that if I had seen a Physical Therapist, maybe my issue would have been resolved much quicker — and maybe not. I’ve had to do PT exercises for months in the past before finding any relief. I really do recommend you see a PT if you’re in pain, but all of these exercises are great for runners — whether your feet bother you or not. Final, final thought: always listen to your body and stop at once if you feel pain or an ache worsens.

What do you do to keep your feet happy?

Are there any PT exercises you still do? 

What do you do to keep running injury free?

34 thoughts on “How I Defeated Achilles Tendonitis

  1. Glad to hear that your pain went away.

    I did have achilles tendonitis years ago and I went to the doctor first. At that time I wasn’t sure what caused the pain. I didn’t run for 6 weeks and went to PT. It went away and has never come back.

    The only gadget I have is a tennis ball and I have a post coming up on how I use it.

    Happy Feet is something I will never have but I can run on them so I am happy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I did have Achilles tendonitis a few years back and it was super annoying. I was able to run through it and soft tissue massage from a PT really helped but it took a few months. Glad you are feeling better

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t think your PT outcome would have differed much, it’s a lot of my PT homework and I still incorporate them to various degrees as it’s amazing how interconnected our bodies are. The calf tightness also plays into the IT Band and PF issues so it’s useful to remember to treat them well. I’ve recently started doing the peloton active foot recovery to remind me to make that TLC part of my routine too.
    Glad you’re on the mend!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I had two episodes of plantar fasciitis and I learned the importance of consistent daily foot TLC. Ironically, like you said, everything is connected…so keeping my calf muscles & hammies/glutes happy is part of the plan as well. I do daily foot massage, focusing on the arch, before getting out of bed so that first step doesn’t make me cringe 🙂

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  5. Achilles tendonitis was one of my first running injuries. It flared up again a few years later, and I was able to keep it at bay with foam rolling. I think catching it early and addressing it right away can really help!

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  6. My teenage daughter had Achilles tendonitis a couple of years ago and it was so bad she couldn’t run at all; she couldn’t even walk without pain. She saw a PT for a couple of months and that finally got her gradually running again. It was a very long process, though. Now if she feels the slightest twinge she starts doing the exercises religiously again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad your daughter isn’t feeling pain there anymore I was lucky I could run through it, and lucky that with reduced mileage it quickly became less painful — it’s still taken months to really go away, though.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You are lucky because I’ve heard Achilles tendonitis is very difficult to treat and takes a long time to recover. My daughter had done too much too fast so hopefully she’s learned her lesson.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It did actually take many months of coming at it from different directions. It started back in summer — but quickly went from acute to just something on the back burner — but it took many more months to feel normal again. So far, anyway!

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  7. My foot is STILL bothering me so I’m going to use your foot routine. You told me about the foot compressions before, and I did them a little but not consistently (because I’ve been doing other things). How did you come up with this? What is the benefit to doing the compressions instead of rolling? Thanks for posting this- everything here is great.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So keep in mind I’m not an expert, but . . . the foot compression is something learned in one of the courses I took (not the most recent one); that particular course was from a PT/Yoga teacher.

      I tried it & found that’s when things really seemed to turn around for me.

      Rolling tends to upregulate our nervous system, so it’s good to do before movement, & it’s not going to hurt you.

      Often we get pain because our brain is guarding against injury. We may not be injured (yet), but the brain is feels something is going on & that pain gets us to back off. The compression helps us to get used to a strong sensation in that area & get the brain to lighten up.

      In order to get into the fascia, we need to be in there for at least 90 seconds. Most people aren’t going to roll that long, but it’s easier to hold compression that long.

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    1. Yeah, calves basically link our feet & our hips — two big problem areas for runners! One of the classes I took also said to always look above & below where the pain is to determine where the problem is.

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  8. I thought once I had achilles tendinitis. I did not go to the doctor. I foam rolled my calves and my foot. That helped a lot. Once I had plantar fasciitis and that was awful. Luckily, stretching, foam following my calves and my foot helped as well. I want to get one of those foot massager machine with heat but wonder if it will be a waste of money. Will come in handy while teaching!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m going to try that foot compression. My right foot is a little unreliable since my surgery, and I don’t really need rolling, but this might feel good.

    I’m so glad you found a way to beat the achilles tendonitis. No one has time to suffer from that!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I actually switched shoes as soon as I felt like this was happening to me! that helped a lot. But as you know I have massive foot issues so I do a lot of foot and ankle stretches daily. great reminder about the compression though! I also have this swedish foot massager machine that hurts so good!!

    glad you are AT free now!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. At first I wondered if it was due to shoes. I’m still running in the same brand/models, though, so I’m not sure. I think there were several factors that contributed to it but can’t pinpoint one single thing.

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  11. “itis” means inflammation and sometimes the best thing for that is rest. In the meantime, all the work you mentioned is so important to address the mechanisms that caused the ‘itis’ in the first place! Glad you are feeling better.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m sorry it’s bothering you again, Coco. Especially now that it’s warmer — where you are, anyway, next week it’ll be cold again here — have you considered trading a bike ride for one run? Repetitive exercise really plays a part in it too, I think.

        Anyway, try the compression. That should help at least in the short term!

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  12. I am so glad you are on the mend, Judy. My son, who just began running last year, is suffering from Achilles tendonitis right now. He has not run for 3 weeks. I am sending him the link to this post. Thank you for sharing what worked for you!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I’ve had plantar fasciitis a couple of times and it’s the worst! I do know that I get super tight calves so stretching is so important. I want to do more foot/toe work and also work on those foot compressions to stay injury-free!

    Liked by 1 person

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