Achilles Tendinopathy in Runners

Achilles Tendinopathy is a common injury in runner, but is easily preventable. Read Anna's latest blog for more info and how physiotherapy can help.

The rise of running clubs, long distance races and running programs in the past few years has brought new attention to the sport. However, the increased participation in the sport has been accompanied by an increase in people developing Achilles tendon pain called an Achilles Tendinopathy.

Achilles Tendinopathy refers to pain, stiffness, and swelling in the Achilles tendon, commonly affecting runners due to repetitive strain and overuse. 

There are two main mechanical causes of Achilles Tendinopathy in Runners, overload & training errors, and biomechanics factors. 

Overload and Training Errors: This type of tendinopathy is seen when there is a rapid increases in training volume or intensity, without adequate rest. The increase in repetitive load can lead to fatigue and overload the Achilles tendon, causing to micro-tears and inflammation.

Biomechanical Factors: This type of tendinopathy is due to suboptimal running mechanics, such as excessive pronation (flat feet), improper footwear, or running on hard surfaces. All of these factors can contribute to increased stress on the Achilles tendon, leading to pain and inflammation. 

Achilles tendinopathy can be easily avoided with appropriate prevention & management techniques. Being mindful of factors that contribute to this injury allow runners to build up their distances safely and without injury. Consideration of the following management & training techniques has proven beneficial in injury prevention: 

  1. Load Management: Gradual progression of training volume and intensity, incorporating rest days, altering distances, speed or route taken on runs, all helps prevent overloading the Achilles tendon.
  2. Optimising your Biomechanics: Having a look at your running style and choosing the most appropriate footwear, orthotics, or heel raise to suit your feet can reduce strain on the Achilles tendon.
  3. Strengthening Exercises: Incorporating eccentric and concentric strengthening exercises to improve the spring function of the muscles used to run. Particular emphasis on working exercises for the calf muscles, such as heel drops and calf raises, into rehabilitation programs can improve tendon strength and resilience.

Achilles tendinopathy is a common issue among runners, however by understanding these causes and implementing evidence-based strategies like load management, appropriate footwear and technique, and targeted exercises, runners can effectively manage and prevent achilles tendinopathies. By following these few simple strategies, you are much more likely to stay injury-free and enjoy your running safely. 

If you would like to improve your running technique, are interested in injury prevention and management and want to optimise your running results, book an appointment with one of our experienced physiotherapists to develop an individualised training program to suit you. 

About us

Physiotherapy treatment and rehabilitation clinic located in Albany, WA. Services include Hydrotherapy, Dry Needling, Workplace Screening, Women’s Health, Postural Rehabilitation, Electrotherapy, Joint Replacement and Pilates classes.

Latest Posts