Achilles Tendinitis

4 weeks from painfully hobbling down steps to running a 17:25 hundred miler - my battle with Achilles Tendinitis

DISCLAIMER - this is the story of what worked for ME.  It may not work for you.  It may not work for anyone else.  I’m not recommending this course of action to anyone.  I’m merely describing what (miraculously) worked for me.

I’d been having a pretty decent year - 11 hundred milers in 10 months, with no injuries or physical issues.  Being the greedy SOB that I am, I decided that number 12 was going to be the Ultra Centric 24 Hour Race, just outside of Dallas, the weekend before Thanksgiving - flat, near sea level, low competition, and the prize was a quarter ounce of gold!

I actually had a pretty good race, logging 137.75 miles.  The problem was that the course was a .51 mile asphalt loop, with a sharp turn on a small downhill, and the direction never reversed.  Having never run more than a marathon on asphalt, my body took a beating.  I had some nasty blisters on my feet, a bit of tibial tendinitis on the left leg, significantly swollen ankles (kankles), and an extremely painful case of Achilles tendinitis on the right leg.  For the last 20 or so miles of the race, I could feel the fibers of my Achilles tendon grating against each other.  For the next couple of days, I was struggling to hobble sideway down stairs.  The pain dissipated slowly, but didn’t go away for a full 2 weeks.

After each one of my previous 100 milers this year, I was able to hit the elliptical the very next day, and start jogging within 2 to 3 days.  This course of action was simply not going to work in this case.

Here’s what I did:
Week 1
No running, or working out at the gym
Minimal walking around the house and at work
Ice on the Achilles for 10 to 20 minutes at a time, 2 to 3 times per day, for the first 3 days
Electro Muscular Stimulation (EMS) unit with pads on various areas of the calves or using the foot pads - used them for 15 minutes at a time, 2 to 5 times per day
Massaged the calf for 10 to 20 minutes at a time, 2 to 3 times per day, by hand and with the massage stick
Massaged the Achilles for 10 to 20 minutes at a time, 2 to 3 times per day, by hand and with a thick spoon to apply more force, both linearly & across the fibers

Week 2
Continued the EMS and massaging
Applied KT tape, though I taped up differently than the recommendations (see picture), replaced tape every 2 to 3 days
Elliptical, in 30 minute increments, 1 to 1.5 hours per day
Rowing machine, in 15 minute increments, 30-45 minutes per day - the non-impact flexing of the ankle, Achilles, and calf muscle, reduced the pain
Skate skied for 2.5 hours on Sunday - first day with no pain

Week 3
Continued the EMS, massaging, KT tape, elliptical, and rowing
Ran an easy 5 miles Thursday night
Ran an easy 8.5 miles Friday

Week 4
Continued the EMS, massaging, KT tape, elliptical, and rowing
Ran an easy 7-8.5 miles Monday, Tuesday & Thursday
Rested completely on Friday
Ran 100 miles in 17.5 hours on a track on Saturday - used KT tape, felt NO PAIN during, or after the run

In conclusion, my performance was not what I would have liked, BUT I was thrilled to have the Achilles issues completely behind me in only 4 weeks.  All of the things I did probably helped to some extent, though I believe the deep (and painful) self massage with the spoon probably helped the most.

Hope this information is interesting and perhaps helpful, but don’t blame me if it doesn’t work for you.  Every single body reacts differently.

1 comment:

  1. Nice. I found that my light bout with AT was helped with similar tactics. Between cutting back on miles, stretching, warning really well(hot pad actually Dec!), and trigger point massage(really what did it) I was able to get past it in about the same amount of time. I'm so glad I tried my had at self care and didn't wait 9 months for it to abate on it's own.