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2. Achilles Tendinitis
The symptoms: Any time you see “itis” at the end of a word, it means there’s inflammation involved, so Achilles tendinitis is simply inflammation of the Achilles tendon. Because the lower legs are so far away from your heart, there’s very little blood flow to the area, which means the healing process for an injury such as Achilles tendinitis is often slow.
A closely related cousin to plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis manifests itself as pain at the back of the lower leg just the above the heel at 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 swelling and pain close to the heel, which is oftentimes sharp and can be incapacitating.
The causes: Sometimes tight calves are the culprit. Tight lower legs put a lot of strain on the Achilles tendon, and over the course of many months of hard training, this overuse injury can develop. Aside from tight calves, unsupportive footwear 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 temporarily relieve symptoms, and aids such as orthotics, heel lifts, and highly structured shoes are short-term solutions. If possible, see if Active Release Technique, a movement-based treatment for soft-tissue injuries that helps to break up scar tissue and restore normal function, is available where you live. Long term, however, it’s worth your while to pay close attention to stretching and strengthening the lower legs. Calf raises, single-leg deadlifts, single-leg squats, and box jumps are great lower-leg-strengthening exercises. Also, heed what’s on your feet; your shoe choices can definitely help or aggravate the situation. And finally, keep an eye on your training. Don’t do too much, or go too hard, too quickly.
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