Help, I have Heel/Ankle Pain. What Can I Do?
If you have been running for any length of time, or even if you are a new to running guy or gal, you have more than likely had an injury in the past (or may be dealing with one now.) In any case, one of the most common injuries runners will face is Achilles Tendonitis.
John Davis wrote at length in Runners Connect on the very subject.
Achilles tendon injuries can be stubborn, painful and depressing. If you’re reading this, then you likely have one. Luckily, we’re here to help, and not just by telling you to ice your achilles and rest.
This guide will explain why achilles tendon issues occur, and what you can do to limit the time it takes to heal it if you are suffering from achilles tendon aching, soreness after a run, creaking, or heel pain.
The Achilles tendon is the thickest and strongest tendon in your body, connecting your calf muscles to the back of your heel.
Virtually all of the force generated when you “toe off” the ground during running is transmitted by the Achilles, and this force can be as much as three times your body weight. And the faster you run, the more strain you put on the Achilles tendon.
As such, it’s prone to injury in many runners, but particularly those who do a lot of speed training, uphill running, or use a forefoot-striking style. Achilles tendon injuries account for 5-12% of all running injuries, and occur disproportionately in men.
This may be because of the faster absolute speeds men tend to train at, or may be due to other biomechanical factors.
Achilles tendonitis (or achilles tendinitis as it is actually known in the medical world) typically starts off as a dull stiffness in the tendon, which gradually goes away as the area gets warmed up. It may get worse with faster running, uphill running, or when wearing spikes and other low-heeled running shoes.
If you continue to train on it, the pain in the tendon will be more sharp and you will feel it more often, eventually impeding your ability even to jog lightly.
About two-thirds of Achilles tendonitis cases occur at the “midpoint” of the tendon, a few inches above the heel. The rest are mostly cases of “insertional” Achilles tendonitis, which occurs within an inch or so of the heelbone. Insertional Achilles tendonitis tends to be more difficult to get rid of, often because the bursa, a small fluid-filled sac right behind the tendon, can become irritated as well.
John then goes on to describe some home remedies including eccentric heel drops which can be very beneficial in helping recovery. In any case, you won't want to go for any length of time without your symptoms being treated and in severe cases medical consultation may be necessary.