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How to prevent Achilles pain after running [2021]

Achilles pain can be fairly common in runners. Statically, Achilles tendonitis accounts for 12% of the injuries experienced by runners.

Achilles pain (Achilles tendonitis) happens to runners who greatly increase their training intensity, duration, mileage or speed, or add in hill running or sprints without the proper build-up.

It is also very common in runners who have excessive over-pronation of the feet (flat feet) or high arches, without the proper footwear or orthotics in place to support. This causes the Achilles tendon to bow and incorrect transfer of forces through the tendon.

It is calculated that up to 7.8x our body weight goes through our ankles when we run and with the average number of foot strikes in a mile being 1600, the micro-trauma increases over time.

It's all about finding the right balance and structure to your training and that is where Riixo is here to help you. Think of Riixo like your own personal support team.

Here are the top five ways to prevent Achilles pain when running.

The right strength training.

Strength training is essential to preventing Achilles pain and will also improve your running performance. Incorporating a structured strength program will ensure that you have no muscle imbalances and that your body works as a unit.

Download you free strength training program for runners

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Warm-up and cool down.

These are widely used terms but are better referred to as perpetration and active recovery.

Preparation can be achieved by starting your run with an 800m steady-state jog at a reduced intensity, combined with a few dynamic exercises such as forward lunges and squats. The intention is to elevate the heart rate, increase the blood flow and warm the muscles.

You can also achieve this by using something like the Riixo Calf cuff 20 minutes before you run. Heat them in the microwave and wear them whilst you are getting ready to go out for your run.

 
 

Active recovery helps assists your body in returning to its baseline. Long-distance runs put such a high demand on the body and stopping suddenly can cause a level of shock to the muscles. Additionally, you will end up with pooling of fluids in the muscles, specifically lactic acid, which will cause you to cramp.

Finish your run with a 15-minute jog gradually reducing your pace until you are at a walk.

Balance and proprioception

By working on your balance, you strengthen the smaller intrinsic muscles in the foot and ankle as well as ensuring that the body works better as a unit. Improved balance, especially for runners, will help to reduce the risk of injury through slips and falls.

Proprioception is the bodies awareness of where its limbs are at any given time. Working on your balance will improve the biomechanical feedback to the brain improving your proprioception. All contributing to having the body work as a complete unit and reducing the increased force through individual areas of the body such as the Achilles tendon.

Dynamic and plyometric exercises.

Dynamic and plyometric exercises. These exercises are short bursts of explosive movements such as jumps, bounding and hopping. They are excellent for building strength and stability in the joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons in the lower limbs.

To prevent Achilles pain, you should focus on the landing phase of each exercise. Visualise the landing, how it is controlled, your foot positioning and the noise you make when you land.

It is important to do these exercises in front of the mirror. Slow controlled landing onto the foot without any excessive bangs or slapping noises as your feet touch the ground.

Download your free 10-week training program for runners

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Footwear and orthotic insoles.

Foot mechanics play an essential role in preventing Achilles pain. If you have flat feet or high arches that are poorly supported then your Achilles tendon will not be straight (see the illustrations below). That means that the transfer of force through the tendon will be higher in some areas and lower in others. This will cause pain and inflammation.

Normal foot

Excessive over pronation (Flat feet)

High arches

To prevent Achilles pain, it is important to have the right footwear or insoles for your mechanics.

Let your body recover.

When it comes to preventing Achilles pain you have to let your body recover or your risk over-training and burning out.  One way to think of it is not overtraining but under recovering.

Your recovery begins the moment you stop to the moment that you start again.

Structure your training so you don’t have at least two days between hard training session. You can see from the illustrations above poor recovery can have serious implications to your training and progress leaving you at real risk of injury.

Hot to treat Achilles pain

About the author

Cameron is a former professional rugby player who broke his back in 2007. He is a qualified physiotherapist with two degrees in Sports Science and Physiotherapy. Before Riixo he worked for the UK national health service (NHS), in professional sport and the British army. Read about his story.

 

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