Achilles pain – more specifically, Achilles tendonitis – is a common ailment in runners and some athletes. Tired or sore calf muscles transfer too much of the work onto the Achilles causing it to become inflamed. Increasing mileage too quickly (runners) or simply overtraining are two of the main causes. Another cause is improperly stretching the calf muscles after a run or working out.
If you start to experience any pain in your Achilles tendon, stop what you’re doing and rest. Ice can be applied to help reduce any inflammation as well as ibuprofen. A foam roller is also a good idea for targeting the calf muscles and Achilles tendon. However, if the pain persists after rest and self-treatment please go see your doctor. Severe enough pain could be an indication of a tear or rupture of the Achilles tendon.
The easiest way to help reduce the chances of Achilles tendonitis is to strengthen your calf muscles by doing calf raises on stairs, a curb, or any other raised surface. Stand on the balls of your feet with your legs straight. Drop your heels down and count to 10. Incorporating rest into your training schedule is also key.
When recovering from Achilles pain, ease back into exercise and gradually increase your activity level. Avoid activities like hill running that increase the burden of stress placed on the Achilles tendon. Stretching daily – even on days you don’t run or work out – is a great idea. Cross training with another activity that is low-impact (like cycling or swimming) is another great way to maintain a certain level of fitness without increasing the risk of re-injuring your sore Achilles tendon.
If this is a recurring problem, buying a new pair of training shoes can make a world of difference. Replacing old, worn out shoes is a must. Consider visiting a running specialty store to find the proper fit of shoe for your specific needs.