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When Can I Start Back Running with Achilles Tendon Problems?

Running with Achilles Tendon Problems

Question :- How long have you had the pain?

1. Less than 4 Weeks AND you have never had Achilles pain before

It would be advisable to stop running
Wait until you can do 3 sets of 15 reps of the Eccentric Calf Exercise and be pain-free.
I know that this may seem a bit overly protective but think about it

  • you have Acute Achilles Tendinitis
  • when it settles you will be fine to restart normal training
  • if you allow it to become CHRONIC Tendinopathy then
  • there are permanent (degenerative) changes which take place in the tendon
  • it stays with you for a very long time
  • you will have to regularly do rehab exercises for the tendon
  • there is an increased risk of tendon rupture as you get older

It makes much more sense to me to take an extra week or so doing cross training or cycling to avoid these possibilities.
Make sure that you include stretching your calf twice a day into your routine.

2. Less than 4 Weeks AND you’ve had Achilles pain before

OK you’ve probably rested for a day or so and then tried it out again only to find the pain returns.
If you don’t want to get worse then ease back SIGNIFICANTLY on your running -

  • easy runs rather than tempo runs etc.
  • NO hill running
  • NO speed sessions

Start the Eccentric Calf Exercise and only when you can do 3 X 15 reps with some additional weight (dumbbells or rucksack with books) should you consider gradually increasing your mileage or speed.
You should also be stretching your calf twice a day.

3. Pain for more than 4 weeks

3a. If you HAVE RESTED from running for a few weeks because of the pain it is important that you can do 3 sets of 15 reps of the Eccentric Calf Exercise and be relatively pain-free before starting back to running.
This is because it is necessary to build up the strength in the calf muscles to cope with the forces of running.
Resting allows the muscles to lose tone quite quickly and you need to get them functioning normally again before starting to pound the roads again.
Weak muscles lead to increased stresses through the tendon and further injury / degeneration.
It is important to keep the calf muscles lengthened at this time so make sure you are stretching your calf twice a day.

3b. If you have NOT RESTED much from running because the pain is not too severe then my advice would be to :-
Ease off your running slightly, especially HILLS and SPEED
Start a proper stretching routine for your calf especially after runs and first thing in the morning
Twice a day do 3 sets of 15 reps of the Eccentric Calf Exercise 
You can progress this to off a step and then add weight using dumbbells, weighted shopping bag in each hand or wear a rucksack loaded with books etc.
When you can do 3 x 15 reps off book then you can gradually increase the speed and distance of your runs.

Restart Running after Achilles Problems

I would recommend using a treadmill to restart my running.
Yes I know it’s boring! BUT

  1. You can run a steady predetermined pace
  2. the time of your session can be controlled exactly
  3. there are no uphills or even worse downhills
  4. you can introduce inclines progressively
  5. you can accurately increase the pace of your runs
  6. underfoot conditions remain constant

Treadmill Running

Start off at no more than 20 minute runs (5 -10 minutes if you are a relative novice to running).
Use cross training to supplement your workouts.
Run at very slightly less than your distance run pace.
Do not be tempted to run too slowly – this affects your running gait too much.
Ice your tendon after each run for a few weeks.
If there is no reaction to a run then run on alternate days and slowly increase your mileage.
After a few weeks you can start to raise the pace of some of your runs.

Good Luck!

WARNING – this is general advice only!
NEVER run through significant pain!
ALWAYS seek the help of a health professional specialising in sports for specific advice.

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