Why do I get Achilles pain when I run?

Are you a runner experiencing pain in your Achilles tendon? You’re not alone. Achilles tendinopathy, a common condition among runners, can be a frustrating setback. But what causes it, and why is it so prevalent in the running community?

Let’s break it down.

What is Achilles Tendinopathy? First things first, what exactly is Achilles tendinopathy? It’s a condition characterized by pain, stiffness, and swelling in the Achilles tendon, which is the thick band of tissue that connects your calf muscles to your heel bone. It’s essential for activities like walking, running, and jumping.

Why Does it Happen? Achilles tendinopathy typically occurs due to overuse or repetitive stress on the tendon. When you run, your Achilles tendon absorbs a significant amount of force with each stride. Over time, this repetitive stress can cause tiny tears in the tendon and lead to inflammation and degeneration.

Common Culprits for Runners:

  1. Overtraining: Increasing mileage or intensity too quickly can overload the Achilles tendon, leading to injury.
  2. Improper Footwear: Worn-out shoes or footwear that doesn’t provide proper support can contribute to excessive stress on the Achilles tendon.
  3. Biomechanical Issues: Factors like flat feet, high arches, or improper running form can put added strain on the Achilles tendon.
  4. Tight Muscles: Tight calf muscles can increase tension on the Achilles tendon, making it more susceptible to injury.

Prevention and Treatment: The good news is that Achilles tendinopathy can often be prevented and effectively treated with the right approach:

  • Gradually increase your mileage and intensity to avoid overloading the tendon.
  • Invest in high-quality running shoes that provide adequate support and cushioning.
  • Incorporate stretching and strengthening exercises for your calf muscles into your routine.
  • Pay attention to your running form and address any biomechanical issues.
  • If you experience pain or discomfort, rest and ice the affected area, and consider seeking professional help from a podiatrist or physical therapist.

In Conclusion: Achilles tendinopathy is a common ailment among runners, but it doesn’t have to derail your training or enjoyment of the sport. By understanding the causes and taking proactive steps to prevent and treat it, you can keep your Achilles tendon healthy and continue running for years to come.

Remember, listening to your body, addressing any issues promptly, and seeking professional guidance when needed are key to staying injury-free and enjoying your running journey.