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The Five Most Troublesome Running Injuries

  • By Mario Fraioli
  • Published May. 10, 2012
  • Updated Feb. 1, 2013 at 9:03 AM UTC
An inflamed achilles tendon.

2. Achilles Tendinitis

With so little blood flow to the achilles tendon, the healing process is often slow.

A closely related cousin to plantar fasciitis, pain that manifests itself at the back of lower leg just the above the heel is often an issue with the Achilles tendon – the thick band of tissue that attaches the calf muscles to the heel bone. Runners who suffer from Achilles tendinitis will often complain of pain and swelling close to the heel, which is oftentimes sharp and can be incapacitating. In my own experience suffering from this injury, I could pinpoint the pain, had significant swelling and recall hearing a “crunchy” sound when I would move my ankle.

What causes Achilles tendinitis? In my case, the injury could be traced to tight calves. Because my lower legs were so tight, a lot of strain was put on my Achilles tendon, and over the course of many months of hard training, this awful overuse injury developed. How awful? It took me nearly nine months to fully recover! With so little blood flow to this area of the body, the healing process is often slow. Aside from tight calves, unsupportive footwear (Note: the definition of “supportive” depends on the individual) can overburden the Achilles tendon over time, or a quick increase in volume and/or intensity can have the same effect much more quickly, so it’s important to pay attention to both your feet and your training – especially when you’re training hard!

The fix: Resting, icing and stretching will all help to relieve symptoms, and things such as orthotics, heel lifts and highly structured shoes are short-term solutions. Long term, however, it’s worth your while to pay close attention to stretching and strengthening the lower legs, as well as what’s on your feet. And of course, keep an eye on your training. Don’t do too much, or go too hard, too quickly.

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FILED UNDER: Injury Prevention / Running Injuries TAGS: / / / /

Mario Fraioli

Mario Fraioli

Mario Fraioli is a senior editor at Competitor magazine. A cross-country All-American at Stonehill College in 2003, he now coaches the Prado Women's Racing Team in San Diego and was the men's marathon coach for Costa Rica's 2012 Olympic team. His first book, The Official Rock 'n' Roll Guide To Marathon & Half-Marathon Training (VeloPress, 2013) is available in bookstores, running shops and online.

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