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7396 Views 9 Replies Latest reply: Jan 18, 2010 5:15 AM by RL Loving
PaintingLady Legend 906 posts since
Dec 12, 2009
Currently Being Moderated

Jan 5, 2010 9:16 AM

Tight Achilles

I'm in wk 8 of the C25K program and loving it. Or I was until last Thursday. I had jogged for 25 min, easy 10:45 pace when after going up a hill my right achilles, which had been a bit tight, but didn't bother me, started hurting and then I felt a pop. I pulled up as it was hurting. The next few days, I did RICE, rest, Ice. compression, elevation. I have also used the Icy-Hot patches.  I've worked on gently stretching that area, but it remains VERY tight.  The pain is not bad, but is noticable, especialy when walking down steps.  I really want to get back to running (although the weather is brutal with wind chill of single digits) but I don't want to hurt my achilles any more. In the mean time I've done weights, stationary bike, Biggest Loser DVD, but I want to run. Should I give it a few more days or chance it?

Thanks in advance for any advise.

BTW, I'm 58 years old.


Marie from Tennessee

Training for Disney 2013 Goofy Challenge.....Yes, I'm certifiably CRAZY!

61 year olds must be out of their minds to run a half marathon followed by a full the next day!

Disney Half Marathon 1/7/2012 2:37:59

Bear Hunt 5K 9/24/11 28:28 pb

Trojan Trek Trail 5K 8/6/11 31:45

Expo 10K 5/28/11 1:01:28,

Expo 10K 5/26/12 1:05:39

Eastman 10K 9/8/2012 1:01:11 pb

"Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." Hebrews 12:1

  • mp96 Amateur 22 posts since
    Jul 15, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    1. Jan 10, 2010 2:44 AM (in response to PaintingLady)
    Re: Tight Achilles

    Painting lady,



    Your case sounds interesting to me..I would not be the best person to offer advise with this injury, but I would obviously recommend u seeing your doctor and get their thoughts on yr situation.  You menitoned you heard a "a pop" , sounds like a full rupture to me, but if yr walking on it then it can not be.  I would definately go and see your doctor and get his take on it.  I can say by experience with having a ruptured achillies it is absolutely neccessary to see the doc as soon as the injury occurs because they need to perform surgery on the ruptured tendit immediately folowing the injury...If the person waits for a few days to see the doc after having a fill rupture then this could jeapardize the petients recovery..


    Good luck to you!!

  • rocdoc50 Legend 240 posts since
    Oct 4, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    2. Jan 12, 2010 9:07 AM (in response to PaintingLady)
    Re: Tight Achilles



    As much as I hate to do it, I have to agree with MP96 assessment of your sounds like you have had some type of achillies rupture or tear. Both MP96 and I have both gone through this injury (you can check out our posting in this Med Tent forum) and recognize some of those tell-tell signs you have mentioned (most notably the 'pop') .



    No matter what else you do, DEFINITELY get it checked out by the doctor. They will let you know to what degree your injury is.  If you are fortunate, it might just be a slight strain which can improve with plenty of rest and no activity. Otherwise, you will probably have a few tough decisions to make.


    MP96 and I took different approaches to recovering from our achillies tendon ruptures:  I took a conservative, non-surgical approach while MP96 took the surgical approach.  If it is a rupture of any kind, your doctor will usually ALWAYS recommend surgery first (Which makes sense because they don't really make as much otherwise with the exception of doctor's visits).  In cases of complete rupture, this is probably the best path to take. However, in cases of partial rupture, in most cases you have a choice.


    I did a lot of research online and found that while surgical is virtually the only action suggested in the USA, overseas it is not.  There are many studies that show conservative or non-surgical treatments work just as well or better.  Again, each case is different so do your research.  If you should have to choose surgery, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A GREAT DOCTOR!    As MP96  can tell you, this will make a WORLD of difference.  All doctors aren't made the same so be sure your doctor (if you need one) has a good track record with this type of surgery.


    Another thing I noted while researching this injury is that age plays a factor in the doctor deciding on your method of treatment. It was stated that sometimes due to patients being a little older (over 40) they will suggest a more conservative treatment versus surgical.  But the reason they are making this suggestion is because they feel that the older person may be a little more sedate in life afterwards and not be into any real activities.  Let your doctor know that you are active in running and would like to continue doing this in order to get the best advice from him/her.


    One other thing to note: if you should get surgery, try to get into some type of walking boot as soon as possible.  This is greatly aid in your quicker return to active running.

  • rocdoc50 Legend 240 posts since
    Oct 4, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    4. Jan 13, 2010 7:15 PM (in response to PaintingLady)
    Re: Tight Achilles

    Glad the information was useful paintinglady!


    By the way, I saw at the bottom of your post that you are from Tennessee.  What part are you from? I was born and raised in Chattanooga, TN and got to travel to just about every corner of the state while working there about 20 years ago.

  • Steve Szibler Rookie 5 posts since
    Oct 19, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    5. Jan 14, 2010 12:24 AM (in response to PaintingLady)
    Re: Tight Achilles

    Hi PL - yes, please take it easy and treat this very conservatively as far as running.  I'm not sure which pieces of a thousand pieces of information to share with you on achilles problems - how it can develop into tendonitis and tendinosis - but I'll briefly tell you some of my own ongoing experience.


    I trace my achilles problems back to beginning in about '97 when I was in my early 40's.  I decided to go run up a small mountain since I was feeling I needed to get back in shape and hill running seemed like a quick way to do this.  I remember having an experience similar to yours, sort of a "ping" as though something popped in the achilles and then some pain.  I believe I ran a little further and it started to hurt some.  At that point I decided to walk back to the start to be safe.


    I'm not sure if I saw a doctor after that and if I did I don't remember him being particularly worried.  I probably took a few days or a week off.  I don't remember clearly but I probably got back to running in a week or so and at least biking.  I remember there being a little bit of stiffness and a dull ache after that.  Yoga seemed to help it feel better and more flexible. 


    As the years went on the pain and swelling increased especially when I gained some weight.  I remember another incident of the "ping" feeling while biking in a harder gear one day.


    Eventually this turned into a chronic injury and a limp.  I think I've tried about every conservative treatment out there and one orthopedic surgeon basically said that surgery could help . . . or not.  That it could even make it worse (this was in '03).


    I have read a lot on this and a key seems to be EARLY conservative treatment, which means real rest for longer than you think you need.  I remember reading at one point something about people thinking it is healed sooner than it really is and that being a major cause of development into tendinosis.  The achilles area seems to have a problem with circulation and so it heals much more slowly than other body parts.  The tendon itself is especially slow to heal.


    Especially, they say, over 40.


    When I do run the constant daily pain and the more acute pain during actual workouts is hard to tolerate.  Running hard I can get sharp pains at times.  I'll limp for awhile after a harder or longer run.


    During 2008 I actually did a bunch of 10 mile trail races and even placed second in my age group in these.  Before that I worked up to running a couple of 50 milers (I was compensating for the lack of being able to do speed work - that seemed to really bother the heel where the achilles attaches - sometimes they call this a "pump bump" - a deformity of swelling and whatever at that attachment).  So, it's not like I couldn't run, but neither running harder or stopping running seemed to help (as soon as I would start running again, even after months to a year off, it would return).


    I've tried PT, night splints, eccentric heel lowering on a step, ice, heat, contrast baths, elevation, swimming, pool running, ultra sound, and I'm sure many things I just can't think of right now.


    Recently what seems to be helping a little is gradual stretching on a step, but NOT to pain.  (One person even said that you SHOULD do it to pain with weights and that that would stop neocirculation, i.e. new capillaries forming, that they believed could actually cause the pain.  Whatever.  That's basically what I did by running races for a year!)  Every day I can put a little more body weight on it with the stair stretches.  I've been doing dead lifts too without too much trouble (though you have to be careful with them and I have some neck pain that they may not be great for - good form is very important with any lifting as you know).  And the number one thing that seems to make if feel better at this stage is self-Gua Sha.  First, I had a chiropractor perform Graston on the calf, achilles, and heel attachment, and then I found I could do it myself with an Asian soup spoon and some lubrication with something like Tiger Balm.  You basically scrape the area with the spoon until you get redness or edema which is supposedly helping the circulation in the area.  When Chiropractors or Chinese practitioners do this they will some days actually make the area black and blue, especially at the calf attachments (this is supposed to prevent calf tightness that can lead to achilles problems).  Then you have to take a few days off to rest it until it heals.  But you can do the more mild form just to redness once or twice a day.  When I do this I have less stiffness and swelling.  I'm doing a bit of biking as I said, but going to wait a bit longer before I try running again.  I tried running after taking off about 3 1/2 months from just about all stressful leg activity - just some easy biking - tried a long run (probably longer than I should have to start) and decided it was hurting just as much again.  So now I'm back to more aggressive biking, yoga classes, stretching on the stairs, some sports conditioning classes, and the Gua Sha.


    The deal is, once you injure the achilles some docs believe that the collagen fibers that replace the damaged ones are not as organized and the achilles becomes progressively weaker and more susceptible to injury and tendinosis.  Scar tissue builds up and it just isn't as strong and elastic as what was there before.  Supposedly the Gua Sha or Graston can help get rid of these "adhesions" and make the tissue heal in a more organized manner.  My feeling is that this is possible but that at this stage you have to keep at it daily and that progress if very slow.  I'm pretty sure my achilles is flexible but not as elastic as it once was (the other one achilles is fine!).


    Hopefully, you will never get to this point, but this is just my way of saying, "It's better to be cautious now, than to go through what I've gone through".  Right?  ;-)


    Let me know how it goes.


    Stephen Szibler

  • RL Loving Pro 138 posts since
    Aug 23, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    6. Jan 14, 2010 5:40 AM (in response to PaintingLady)
    Re: Tight Achilles

    I hurt my achilles running hills last January.  Really bad.  I took months off.  Even then it hurt when I ran.  Every morning I hobbled for 10 minutes before I could even walk normally.  And yes, going down steps required both feet on each step to minimize the pain.  Here is what I found worked best for me.


    Ice.  I iced it both morning and night for 20 minutes.  I found that using a plastic tub of ice and water that I could submerge my entire foot in worked best.  I did this for 3 months before I no longer needed it.


    Menthol.  I used Absorbine that I purchased at a feed store.  It is intended for horses so caveat emptor.  The same manufacturer makes Absorbine, Jr. for humans.  The active ingredient in both is methol, which increases blood circulation.  The equine version is 4% menthol whereas the human version is only .05%.


    Step Stetcher.  It really does a great job of stretching your calf.  But that is important because it is the "other end" of the achilles tendon.  I found stretching the calf helped stretch the AT.


    I now run virtually AT pain free.

  • Steve Szibler Rookie 5 posts since
    Oct 19, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    7. Jan 16, 2010 6:41 PM (in response to RL Loving)
    Re: Tight Achilles

    I noticed today that Tiger Balm claims to have 11% Menthol!  I got some at Rite Aid tonight and didn't notice until I got home that the stuff I've been using for the past bunch of years says, "White Regular Strength" and doesn't list percentages.  Even their website doesn't mention what the percentage of menthol is.


    So, it will be interesting to see if there's a difference with this.




  • JamesJohnsonLMT Legend 1,282 posts since
    Aug 23, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    8. Jan 17, 2010 2:10 AM (in response to RL Loving)
    Re: Tight Achilles

    My Great Aunt used Absorbine Horse formula for her arthritis. You could smell it outside the house. Luckily, she lived out in the country.


    I use Biofreeze professionally, but it's interesting to note that traditional Thai medicine balls - those bags of herbs they steam in a rice cooker - contain camphor and menthol. Stains clothing, though.

  • RL Loving Pro 138 posts since
    Aug 23, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    9. Jan 18, 2010 5:15 AM (in response to JamesJohnsonLMT)
    Re: Tight Achilles

    JamesJohnsonLMT wrote:


    My Great Aunt used Absorbine Horse formula for her arthritis. You could smell it outside the house. Luckily, she lived out in the country.



    Yeah, I used it once before I went to bed.  The next morning my wife informed me that in the future, if I put the Horse Absorbine on my leg at night, I should plan on sleeping on the couch. 


    I tried to sell her on the thought that it kept her nasal passages open.  Uh, she didn't buy it.

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