Increased your runs and now you have that ache in the back of your leg or just above the heel? Dr. Devon Ballard with Sherwood Family Medical Center has some advice.
An overuse injury of the Achilles tendon, the band of tissue that connects calf muscles at the back of the lower leg to your heel bone, commonly occurs in runners who have suddenly increased the intensity or duration of their runs. It’s also common in middle-aged people who play sports, such as tennis or basketball, only on the weekends.
It typically begins as a mild ache in the back of the leg or above the heel after running or other sports activity. Episodes of more-severe pain may occur after prolonged running, stair climbing or sprinting. You might also experience tenderness or stiffness, especially in the morning, which usually improves with mild activity.
If you start experiencing Achilles pain, stop running. Take aspirin or ibuprofen, and ice the area for 15 to 20 minutes several times a day until the inflammation subsides. Self-massage may also help. Once the nodule is gone, stretch the calf muscles. Don’t start running again until you can do toe raises without pain. Next, move on to skipping rope, then jumping jacks, and then gradually begin running again. You should be back to easy running in six to eight weeks. Physical therapy, orthotic devices and as a last resort surgery.
A great stretch for the Achilles is also the simplest. Stand on the balls of your feet on stairs, a curb or a low rung of a ladder, with your legs straight. Drop both heels down and hold for a count of 10. To increase the intensity of the stretch, keep one foot flat and lower the other heel. Then switch legs.
Also, don’t run in worn-out shoes. Ease into any running program. Avoid hill work, and incorporate rest into your training schedule.