Which Workouts Trigger Achilles Tendon Pain?
Did your attempt to stick to New Year’s resolutions throw you into a new exercise routine? Or does your work schedule keep you busy all week long, only leaving room in your schedule for weekend workouts? If so, you might be what we call a ‘weekend warrior,’ which is a term we use to describe someone who has periods of inactivity followed by bursts of exercise. Now, there’s nothing wrong with this exercise pattern—after all, some activity is better than none at all—but if you’re not careful, it can lead to certain problems. Specifically, many weekend warriors end up battling achilles tendon pain. Especially when your activity of choice is running. So, to help keep you safe and active, let’s take a closer look at how your Achilles tendon works, and how your actions directly affect its health and ability to support your workouts.
Your Achilles tendon is the largest in your body, and it’s got a big job: attaching your calf muscles to your heel bones. As you can imagine, with so much work to do, your Achilles tendon is subject to a lot of pressure. Think about how your body works when you run. Your heels strike the ground, giving little tugs to your calves—and your Achilles tendon.
Now, your body is set up to adapt to this kind of pressure. But sometimes it can’t cope. This is the case when you overload your tendon with too much exercise, which is why many marathoners end up with achilles tendon pain from running. But it’s also a problem when you spend most of the week being sedentary, only ramping up activity on the weekends.
Why is this a problem? Instead of slowly gaining strength and adapting to new limits, your body is forces to go from zero to 60 in an instant. And, if this becomes a pattern, your Achilles tendon may weaken over time, becoming inflamed or even developing tiny tears. And, when those problems develop, you’re dealing with a painful condition known as achilles tendinitis.
Symptoms of Achilles Injury
In addition to Achilles tendon pain, you may notice some of the following symptoms:
- Pain in the back of ankle above heel
- A lump on the back of the ankle, above the heel, also known as a Haglund’s deformity. This lump develops right where your Achilles tendon attaches to your heel. While we don’t know exactly why these lumps develop, they appear to be tied to tight Achilles tendons. In some cases, surgery to remove the bony bump and repair your tendon will resolve this issue.
Recently, pole vaulter Sandi Morris pushed through an Achilles tendon injury, going on to win the USATF Indoor Championships. But we don’t recommend doing so. Because, when it comes to your tight tendons, we always advise seeking early intervention. Left untreated, your weakened Achilles tendon could suddenly rupture, leaving you with a serious injury and limited mobility.
How we treat your Achilles tendon pain or heel pain will depend on its underlying cause. In our Spring and Tomball, TX podiatric practices, our experienced foot and ankle specialists employ ultrasound and sensory testing to discover the root cause of your pain.
Some common culprits include bursitis, a painful condition common among runners, athletes and anyone who spends a lot of time on their feet. This condition affects the bursae (fluid-filled sacs) around your joints, leaving you feeling stiff or achy, causing pain as you move or when you press on the area, and possible making the area behind your ankle, at your heel, looking red or swollen.
Your treatment options will depend on the severity of your condition. In the early stages, we can usually help you find relief with rest, anti-inflammatory medications, stretching, and moist heat. Later, some patients will find relief by icing the affected area. Additionally, we can prescribe physical rehabilitation, which will likely include exercises to strengthen your calf muscles. (Our in-house athletic trainer can help.) And laser treatments to help alleviate your pain could help you get back to your active routine as soon as possible.
Thankfully, our podiatrists have a great track record when it comes to relieving your Achilles tendon and heel pain. Check out what patient Pierre B. had to say about his experience in our office: “After having a severe case of Plantar Fasciitis, we tried all procedures and treatments to reduce pain and inflammation. Nothing worked. I was told by Dr. Bachmann of a new procedure, a laser treatment (MLS) that was new but very effective. I tried it and after treatment #1 I already felt an improvement. I’m on treatment 9 of 10 and can honestly say it has relieved the pain and constant irritation I was experiencing for the past 9 months. I would recommend this treatment and the excellent service of Dr. Bachmann’s team of health care professionals.”
Ready to say goodbye to tendon and heel pain? Just call our office and schedule your consultation today!
Sources: Mayo Clinic