Achilles tendinopathy, lots of people have it or have had it, but what is it?

Generally most people are aware it is pain in the back of the ankle or bottom of the calf (where it inserts into the heel).

The Achilles is the tendon that attaches the calf muscle to the heel. It is a relatively thick tendon but is often injured or irritated by running. If this irritation is ignored it can become degenerative and a chronic condition.

What can cause this pain/injury? It can come from over using the calf muscle, incorrect mechanics in running (over pronation is a movement the Achilles doesn’t like) plus previous injury (can make the Achilles more prone to reinjury).

What can be done about it? Here is an example of a top level amateur runner nearly giving up running becoming completely pain free.

Jon Rees came to visit us in October 2011 with a 10 year history of Achilles pain and having not run consistently for a long time. His personal best half marathon time was 1.14 and had run several marathons, with his best time being 2.51.

With occasionally running, then waking up the next morning and struggling to walk (anyone with or who has had a Achilles pain will know this feeling), Jon had got continually frustrated.

Jon had spoken to a friend of his (an orthopaedic consultant) who had advised him “give up running and take up golf, injuries are par for the course at our age”

After a detailed biochemical running analysis at The Running School we discovered some fundamental faults in his technique which were almost certainly increasing the stress on Jon’s Achilles.

A few weeks later Jon began a six session programme to look to correct these faults and train his body how to run more efficiently (yes you can retrain your body to run better). This took a few sessions to get the best technique to become natural then we worked on improving speed and strength.

Strength was a vital part of the sessions, and we aren’t talking lifting heavy weights. It is just body weight stability exercises with the correct movement patterning and usually on one leg (because when you run you are on one leg or the other).

After the sessions we compared the first video with a video in the last session and the change was there to see but more importantly Jon had this to say “my Achilles pain is now history” and when running the other day he caught up with this young keen runner who turned to him and said you have such an easy and efficient style, are you a seasoned runner? Jon replied “I’m reinvigorated and able to train again, amazing!”

Jon is now pain free, able to run when he wants and has the Paris marathon in sight.

Here is a link to Jon’s before and after video.

If you want to see if your technique is causing you pain or you want to improve your performance, book in for your free Biomechanical Running Analysis today –