Achilles tendon problems in runners

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Almost every runner has experienced problems with the Achilles tendon. The strong forces that impact the calves and Achilles tendon during running quickly lead to problems when overloaded or under unfavorable biomechanical conditions. We clarify in this article what can be done in case of Achilles tendon problems.

Achilles tendon problems in runners

When running, the body has to absorb the impact caused by the reppetitive pounding of your foot against the ground. In the process, great pressure is exerted on the calf muscles, the three muscle parts of which converge at the very bottom at the Achilles tendon. During the springy running motion, the contraction force of the calves is transmitted via the Achilles tendon to the bony structures of the foot. If during this transmission of force any unfavorable body predispositions or poor shoes (too stiff, improperly placed heel counter) make it difficult for the process to run smoothly, this can lead to acute or chronic problems in the Achilles tendon.

Most often, however, Achilles tendon problems are triggered by increasing the volume or intensity of training too quickly. The right number of workouts, as well as precise training guidelines, can help prevent problems accordingly.

Acute Achilles tendonitis

When there are problems with the Achilles tendon, it is often generally referred to as inflammation, but this is not always correct. Acute Achilles tendonitis occurs rather rarely and is noticeable by dull to stabbing pain, especially when standing up and “starting up”. Pressure pain in the calf area and classic inflammation symptoms such as warmth formation and redness can also occur in isolated cases.

Chronic Achilles tendon complaints

Chronic complaints of the Achilles tendon occur much more frequently. The problems often come insidiously and without the classic symptoms of inflammation (warmth, redness). At the beginning, an inflammatory reaction is triggered due to overloading, whereupon proteins with water are deposited between the collagen fibers. This leads to a thickening of the tendon, which is often associated with pain. If you react quickly in this phase, this development can be reversed.

If this reaction is not reversed, more and more proteins are deposited and the tendon gains additional volume. In extreme cases, cracks and scarring may even develop, further impairing the functionality of the tendon. This development is irreversible – from this point on, however, the pain can be relieved and the remaining tissue can be supported.

Treatment of Achilles tendon problems

If chronic inflammation is present, exercise should be reduced or even stopped. Within the first 24 to 48 hours, cooling can provide relief. Self-massage of the calf muscles can also reduce discomfort, as loosening reduces additional pulling forces on the Achilles tendon.

Chronic discomfort is often ignored at the beginning, as it is very gradual. Medically, shock wave therapy or autologous blood injections can be used to combat the problems. At an earlier stage, the problems can be addressed with eccentric training. The collagen fibers are strengthened by the tensile stress created and also the stored water is reduced.

Eccentric exercise: place both balls of the feet on a stair step, lower the heel, stay in this position for a moment and then lift the foot upwards until you are standing on your toes.

This exercise should be done twice a day for 12-15 weeks.

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