My Achilles Has a History– Am I Doing the Right Thing?

Discussion in 'Ask the Docs' started by violamarie, Sep 26, 2011.

  1. violamarie

    violamarie
    Expand Collapse
    Barefooters

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2010
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    0
    I am a new barefoot runner...basically trying it because nothing else has worked to get me off the injury bandwagon.

    I inured my achilles about 3 years ago. Since then it's been off & on bouts with tendinosis. It flared up again last year at this time. Just as I was getting out of the woods with that, my right knee started up in the spring. So it's been a year since I did any real running.

    Now that I'm easing–and I do mean easing– back into it, I've decided to just start BF and then work into Vibrams as necessary. But I can't help thinking that while the mid/forefoot landing may be the best thing possible for my knee, I could be making the worst mistake ever as far as my AT goes. I keep reading about how achilles injuries are the bane of barefoot/minimalist runners and how a strong AT is necessary for the BFR action. Am I making a big mistake with my injury history? Has anyone else here overcome AT injury and found BF/MR to be beneficial?

    So far I've only done two 1/4th mile barefoot runs. I've had no calf soreness or blistering yet. I have felt an almost imperceptible tingling/burn in my achilles just after each BFR that goes away. Havign said that, I admit I am extremely paranoid about my AT and have lost all grip on reality when it comes to sensations I'm feeling. Prior to this, I've been going barefoot as much as possible around the house & yard for probably a year now.

    I just feel like I might be screwd either way. Traditional shoes may be better for my AT, but they encourage overstriding & heel striking and are therefore detrimental to my knee.
     
  2. Dr. Gangemi_SockDoc

    Dr. Gangemi_SockDoc
    Expand Collapse
    Barefooters

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2011
    Messages:
    189
    Likes Received:
    18
    Ahhh....decisions, decisions.

    Ahhh....decisions, decisions. It really shouldn't be this hard, should it? Actually it isn't - but there is so much contradicting information out there and people claiming that being barefoot causes certain injuries it raises some suspicion for certain people. Barefoot is always best. But it's only always best (if that makes any sense) if you're ready to be barefoot. Many, probably most, are not. Their feet are weak and they need support from their shoes and orthotics. "Traditional shoes better for your AT?" No, they're not. But they may help you feel better as you recover by taking some of the strain off the tendon. But ultimately if you want to fully recover from this and your other injuries you will need to make some changes.

    The past knee injury could easily be altering your gait and causing some of your AT symptoms now, and even the shoes you're wearing could be altering your gait and causing further problems even though they are taking some of the pressure off the Achilles. So where do you go from here? You need to take a deep look into your lifestyle. Injuries are a sign that you're doing somethign wrong. You're under too much stress either from training improperly (too much, too hard perhaps), a poor gait, poor running shoes - or stress from an improper diet (bad fats, refined sugars, too much caffeine) or even too much stress from work or family responsibilities. These are things I talk about throughout the SockDoc site so I would suggest you venture on over there and read some of the articles especially on gait and running and how it's more than just what's on your feet.

    Don't get caught up in just looking at where your pain is right now. The fact that you've been injured and it's not healing on its own means you need to address a much larger stress; the injury is your wake-up call.
     
    Collapse Signature Expand Signature
  3. violamarie

    violamarie
    Expand Collapse
    Barefooters

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2010
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    0
    Actually the achilles injury

    Actually the achilles injury is old. I initially hurt it 3 yrs ago and it's been off & on since then. I started ASTYM and other PT last year in the fall. I consider my AT to be 99% recovered, probably as good as it's ever going to get without turning back the clock and returning to the time before I ever hurt it.

    The knee thing actually started this spring, just as I was trying to ease back into running. It is grade 2-3 chondromalacia and I am currently getting prolotherpay shots for it. My knee is not very painful and does not limit everyday activities. But it is crunchy and I wanted to try to heal the damaged cartilage which is why I pursued prolotherapy.

    My question is not "am I overtraining?" I know I'm not doing that, having not really run in a year. I am basically starting over and I wanted to do it barefoot to see where that gets me. But I guess I have some lingering fears that I may be going down the wrong path. I feel like BFR could help my knee but might restart the whole AT thing or other things. Maybe I'm just trading one set of injuries for another. I guess there's no way for me to know than to give it a fair shot.

    As for being ready to go barefoot, I've been walking and working out BF as much as possible for about a year now. I only wear shoes when I must.
     
  4. Dr. Gangemi_SockDoc

    Dr. Gangemi_SockDoc
    Expand Collapse
    Barefooters

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2011
    Messages:
    189
    Likes Received:
    18
    Well here's where a

    Well here's where a difference in philosophies exist. Because if you're still injured - your body is under more stress than it can handle, call it overtraininig, call it underconditioning, it is really no different. Athletes have this idea that they need to be hammering out miles and logging in long hours of training to be overtraining, when in reality you can be overtraining with very little training if other factors in your life (work, diet, etc - as mentioned) are too much of a load. If your body is injured, it's breaking down because it can't recover or adapt to the stress you're putting on it, so something is overtrained, whether that is your entire body or even just one limb from an improper gait. Does that make sense? I guess the point is don't think you're not overtraining because you haven't run much in a year. That means you got a new injury (the knee) during that period, so something is/was already not right, and you're not even training that much.
     
    Collapse Signature Expand Signature
  5. Supermangs

    Supermangs
    Expand Collapse
    Barefooters

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2011
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    I had some pre-existing

    I had some pre-existing problems with my calf muscles prior to starting BF. I kept on getting minor strains and tears, nothing really major, but always enough to stop me running for a period. I was basically barely running for 2-3 years, and instead was swimming a lot, which luckily I enjoy but I used to really enjoy running and I hadn't done so for a long time.

    Here's what I did.

    I backed off for two weeks completely.

    Then I started BF like this. You can assume that in each case I was "on the move" for around 30mins.

    First, 10 secs running, 50 secs walking and repeat for 30mins. I would do that for a week or two, or until I felt on top of that and didn't get too much soreness, and then I would change it to the following.

    15 secs running, 45 secs walking and repeat for 30mins. Again, do that for a few weeks, then when you feel good, move it up a little.

    30 secs running, 1 minute walking and repeat for 30mins.

    Then get yourself up to 1min on, 1min off, and so on until you are doing 1min walking, 4min running. By that stage, you are almost as good as running the whole time anyway as far as your AT is concerned.

    It took me about 4mths to get to where I am now, which is where I am out running for about 30 to 40 minutes, and doing blocks of up to 10-12 mins continuous running, then perhaps having a 1min walk, just to allow my muscle fatigue to stay low because fatigue seems to pre-indicate tearing for me.

    The thing about this process for me was that it TOOK SO FREAKIN' LONG! It is a very slow build up, and it doesnt' feel at all like you are doing anything. It does build the training load up very, very caredfully.

    But it was worth it. Hey, I had one or two setbacks on the way, where I pulled up a bit sore and so just iced and took a few extra days off, but I didn't hurt anything.

    Touch wood, I am finally on my way. I know that the other day I had a run that I can only describe as joyous, and that is the first time in years that has happened to me.

    Also, if you don't have a foam rollar, get one, and spend 5 mins every day or every other day just rolling the hell out of your calves and legs and achilles. It hurts like hell at first, but keep perservering as much as you can. It really made a difference to me.
     
  6. violamarie

    violamarie
    Expand Collapse
    Barefooters

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2010
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'm thinking about giving up.

    I'm thinking about giving up. After just two 0.25 miles runs, I'm feeling tiny but tell-tale twinges in the AT when I press on it certain ways. This could be the beginning of the end again. I've done everything, you name it...ASTYM, PT, foam rolling, heel drops, etc. Now I'm worried that just two BF runs might have started the cycle again. I don't know how mcuh more I can take. Mentally, I just don't know if I can sustain the repeated attempts & dashed hopes.
     
  7. Dr. Gangemi_SockDoc

    Dr. Gangemi_SockDoc
    Expand Collapse
    Barefooters

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2011
    Messages:
    189
    Likes Received:
    18
    Violamarie - did you read my

    Violamarie - did you read my SockDoc post/video on AT? And how it's a lot more than just a structural issue? Your hormonal system (adrenals) have a huge impact on the integrity of your calves/Achilles.
     
    Collapse Signature Expand Signature
  8. violamarie

    violamarie
    Expand Collapse
    Barefooters

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2010
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yes, I do believe injuries

    Yes, I do believe injuries are complex and mutli-dimensional. However, it's not like I can eliminate all stress from my life just because I want to. I have 3 small kids. I eat a reduced carb diet, take supplements, do the best I can to be healthy. I get 7-8 hrs of sleep. I wear myself out with various PT regimens to balance out my various weak areas. Sure, there is probably more I could do. The same could be said for most of us. I'm not perfect. But I don't really buy that even if I could find the perfect diet (and no one can seem to agree upon what that it), it would solve all my problems.
     
  9. migangelo

    migangelo
    Expand Collapse
    Chapter Presidents
    1. Oregon

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2010
    Messages:
    2,719
    Likes Received:
    2,736
    you also don't get anywhere

    you also don't get anywhere by giving up. by continuing, slowly, you'll get to where you want. life isn't always easy and if you have old injuries it will keep it a difficult journey. many have posted how they fix one imbalance or old injury only to have another one show up. they seem to pop up in successive order. either weakest or newest to the oldest. this is a journey that has taken years for many. there is no quick fix, for anything. see the big picture, not just now. fixate on a long term goal and be proud of all the little ones you achieve along the way. you can do it. so long as you believe you can. it won't be easy for you but nothing worth doing is easy.



    Mike
     

    Collapse Signature Expand Signature
  10. violamarie

    violamarie
    Expand Collapse
    Barefooters

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2010
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    0
    I know it won't be easy. It's

    I know it won't be easy. It's been a year. I realize that in the big picture, this isn't very long. But sometimes I can't help but wonder if God is trying to tell me running is out of the picture. And I question why I feel like need running to be happy. I know I shouldn't feel that way, there are plenty of things I can do. It's pretty silly to need one thing to make me happy. But it's how I feel, and I'm struggling with that.
     
  11. Shaun Mac

    Shaun Mac
    Expand Collapse
    Barefooters
    1. Minnesota

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2011
    Messages:
    58
    Likes Received:
    1
    There is nothing wrong with

    There is nothing wrong with taking a step back and re-evaluating things. If you're sick of the injury and worried about running then don't run. If it's not fun and enjoyable right now then don't do it. Take some time off from it. Find something else to stay in shape and relieve stress for a while and maybe the fire will come back.

    That's how I came to barefoot running. Sick of the constant nagging injuries, running became not fun. So I stopped running and re-evaluted what I was doing and that lead me to barefoot running. I'm slowly working my way back and at least the running is different and enjoyable now.
     
  12. violamarie

    violamarie
    Expand Collapse
    Barefooters

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2010
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    0
    The fire is there- I love to

    The fire is there- I love to run and want it badly. But I'm starting to think BFR may not be for me. Last year at this time I tried a brief foray into barefoot. I was doing 2 or 3/10ths of a mile to start, every 3 days or so. I was also trying to learn POSE. After just a few runs, I got the familiar ache in my achilles (having previously run pain free for 6+ months since my last bout). That's what started all of this all over again. I then embarked on an arduous course of ASTYM and PT. In the spring I tried to start running again (this time in the Nike Free). Then came the knee thing less than two weeks later, despite my cautious & slow start. And now, after another 6 months off running I am feeling the AT again after just TWO tiny barefoot runs. And it's not like I haven't read up on form. Lord knows I'm swimming in information about cadence, foot strike, etc.

    I know I'm going to get blasted for this, but I can't help thinking that as logical & attractive as the BF thing sounds...maybe it's not working out for me with my already compromised AT. As much as I want it to solve my problems, maybe it's making them worse. Now I've go to wait another who-knows-how-long for the AT to settle down so I can try again, if I can muster up the wherewithal to even keep doing this to myself.
     
  13. Barefoot TJ

    Barefoot TJ
    Expand Collapse
    Administrator
    1. Test Chapter
    2. Nomad
    3. Hidden...
    4. Hidden...

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2010
    Messages:
    20,215
    Likes Received:
    6,385
    Are you able to run now

    Are you able to run now pain-free in shoes? Were you able to run pain-free in shoes in the past just before trying out barefoot running? Is your AT so compromised that regardless of how you run, with or without something on your feet, you'll have trouble until you resolve whatever it is that is causing your AT issues?

    Are your calves extremely tight? If so, I'll bet that's what is causing your AT problems. My PF (a lovely remnant first earned from running in traditional running shoes I still deal with now and again on varying levels) would get worse whenever I would stretch my calves...and eat/drink too much sugar. Whatever you do, don't stretch your calves! Instead, massage the hell out of them as often as you can. Read Dr. G's article about this here: http://sock-doc.com/2011/04/stop-stretching/
     
    Collapse Signature Expand Signature
  14. Dr. Gangemi_SockDoc

    Dr. Gangemi_SockDoc
    Expand Collapse
    Barefooters

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2011
    Messages:
    189
    Likes Received:
    18
    Nobody can eliminate all the

    Nobody can eliminate all the stress from their life, that is not the point. It is to manage it better. (I have 3 kids too!) Maybe you're taking the wrong supplements; maybe you're eating the wrong diet; maybe you do need to wear certain minimalist shoes for now. But you SHOULD NOT be in pain or injured. Most PT regimes don't solve multi-dimensional problems; they look at isolated problems and use isolated solutions. That is how most docs and therapists function. If you want to try and find a new doc you can send me an email and I can see who I know in your area.

    Humans are meant to run. You are meant to run. If you don't want to run that's fine. But if you CAN't run - that's a problem. Think of how you'll be when you want to run with your kids more and more. You won't be able to.
     
    Collapse Signature Expand Signature
  15. migangelo

    migangelo
    Expand Collapse
    Chapter Presidents
    1. Oregon

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2010
    Messages:
    2,719
    Likes Received:
    2,736
    VM,i never used to enjoy

    VM,

    i never used to enjoy running, at all. it was a painful thing to me and i didn't understand how people got pleasure out of it. i bought vff and thought they were great. i enjoyed running. it was fun. i understood. i then made some huaraches because i wanted to get as close to bf as possible without going bf. i found they don't work in mud and wound up bf. i don't regret it one bit.



    what has happened to me is small pains trying to learn proper form. not much of a problem there. only took off a couple of days at a time. the problem i came into is i fell on my hip many years ago and haven't done enough to heal it properly. it started affecting my running the more i went bf and my pf came back. two things to deal with. so i met Michael Sandler and he watched me run. he was able to see my bad posture and running form and told me to take a month off to work out the imbalances. well it was more like two months of no running and doing pilates and biking. i started running again and can still feel the imbalances but not like they used to be.



    i know i will get it worked out. i've had some incredible runs. hell, my second time bf was the best run i ever had. i've never been so high in my life. i recently read that Lee Saxby took five years to learn to run bf properly and pain free. if you don't know who he is i'll tell you. he's a famous running coach who now promotes bf and works for Terra Plana. he now teaches others to coach bf running. it's a long journey so you have to keep your eyes on the horizon.



    don't forget your achilles tendons have shortened from being in shoes so they will be sore for a few months at least the more you go bf. put some shoes on to help relieve when you're in too much pain from that. it will go away even though it doesn't feel like it. all of us have/are going through it so don't fret.



    Mike
     

    Collapse Signature Expand Signature
  16. violamarie

    violamarie
    Expand Collapse
    Barefooters

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2010
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    0
    From Feb to Sept of 2010 I

    From Feb to Sept of 2010 I ran pain free in shoes. I say pain free because I had no pain with any activity. There has always been certain vaguely tender spots in the AT/calf that are sore if I foam roll of poke hard in a certain way. But I was running up to 6 miles at a time with no pain. In Sept 2010 is when my posterior tib started acting up (it had bugged me a little about a year before that). I stopped running for a few weeks to let that calm down and that's when I started to get interested in BFR and POSE. But a couple of weeks into that experiment and I was noticing my AT again (and I was NOT overdoing it). Now it could be that I was just suddenly paying more attention to it than I had been. It's hard for me to know if it was truly getting worse or if I was just focusing on it more because of the BFR. Anyway, that's when I started into ASTYM & PT for my achilles. I saw a really great PT and worked on a lot of imbalances all over my body. I tried to restart running in shoes (nike free) in Dec 2010. That lasted about 6 weeks before I just couldn't take it, mentally. I was constantly anxious about running & reinjury, and I could barely eat I was so freaked out. So I stopped running for another two months just to get my head back on straight. At then end of March 2011 I tried to restart again in shoes (Free), and then the knee thing came on less than 2 wks later. I actually attribute the knee problem to being off running for so long. I think my joints were acclimated to the rigors of running and the long break actually may have initiated the softening of my knee cartilage.

    And now...6 months later, after 3 prolo treatments for me knee and tons of rehab exercises, it's finally time for me to start trying out some running. I thought to myself, why not try BFR again since it will be easier on my knee? But now, here comes the achilles thing again. Or maybe not. Who knows? It could just be that once again I'm focusing on it and noticing twinges I would have previously ignored. So now I don't know whether to press forward with BFR or go back to shoes...because at least with shoes I have had stretches of pain free running.

    The worst part is...I'll never get an objective answer. All the BF people will say "barefoot or bust!" and the docs and all others will say "Oh no, you need support!" How am I supposed to make head or tails of that?
     
  17. NickW

    NickW
    Expand Collapse
    Guest

    violamarie, I always tell

    violamarie, I always tell people to do what makes them feel comfortable. I personally don't want someone preaching to me something that I don't believe in or have already closed my mind off to. I think in this you have to listen to yourself and yourself only.

    As far as the pain in your achiles, I think most of us that run barefoot that are new to being barefoot, have some slight discomfort there, as our achiles and calves have shrunk from normal shoes having a raised heel, I've heard in some cases as much as an inch or inch and a half. I myself have been very frustrated as the last two months I have been rehabbing my calf that I strained or tore. Every time I thought I was healed I would go for a short run and bam, I would re-injure it. I finally took some advice from the great people on this site, and am really going slow and following what was told to me, except I am not stretching at all. It seems when I stretch I may over stretch and keep re-injuring the calf.

    For me, barefoot running is great and has gotten me running again when I thought I was going to be a cripple the rest of my life and not be able to run and play with my kids. If you're causing yourself a lot of stress and have to take time off from running just because of the stress, maybe you have to re-evaluate how you want to run. Running should be fun. I always say if it isn't broke, don't fix it.

    Barefoot running is not an instant fix for all pains. Sure, you may get some immediate benefits, but it really takes a long time to get past all the little pains and for all your muscles and ligaments to stretch out to the length they should be. Running should not be this stressful for you mentally. Good luck and I hope you can find a way to run, be it barefoot or shod.
     
  18. violamarie

    violamarie
    Expand Collapse
    Barefooters

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2010
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thank you for your balanced

    Thank you for your balanced response, Nick. I do like the BFR feeling and I want it to work for me. I'm just having a hard time deciding which way to commit.

    As far as a shortened calf/achilles, I do stay barefoot as much as possible for general purposes. I have done so for at least a year so I was hoping my AT would be nicely lengthened by now. When I do leave the house, it's in flats. I don't stretch my calves. I do the eccentric heel drops and sometimes foam roll. I don't know if that hurts or helps though since it tends to get me freaked out if I find a sore spot.
     
  19. NickW

    NickW
    Expand Collapse
    Guest

    I think for some of us, maybe

    I think for some of us, maybe our calves/achiles may lengthen pretty slowly. I have been conciously barefoot or in zero drop shoes for almost 6 months, but I have been barefoot with some "normal" footwear for about a year now. It's a very slow process and it can be very frustrating. I know that I can run faster and farther than I am now, but I am keeping it slow and low mileage because at the time of my calf injury, I had just started stretching and had made a correction in my form. I think contributed to my injury because I did not adjust my mileage or speed for the new form. I want to make sure that I do things right this time so that I can keep running and can get back to where I was.

    The biggest thing I am finding out is to listen to my body, not just acknowledgeing that my body is telling me something, but really listening to it and obeying it. This is very difficult for me to do because I have this competitive streak in me that feels like I am letting myself or other people down. I also learned while in the military (this is not good for me) that I can push my body to extremes that I had previously thought were insane or impossible. While this pushing myself may get me through the current task, it does cause me to injure myself which keeps me off from running for much much much longer.

    As far as the foam roller and eccentric heel drops I am not sure. I use The Stick to massage out any sore muscles, but I don't go over board with it. I am one of those people who a deep massage actually hurts more than helps and I only need just a little to work out the kinks. Anyhow, this turned really long, and hopefully you can figure out what works for you.
     
  20. Barefoot TJ

    Barefoot TJ
    Expand Collapse
    Administrator
    1. Test Chapter
    2. Nomad
    3. Hidden...
    4. Hidden...

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2010
    Messages:
    20,215
    Likes Received:
    6,385
    I like what Nick has said

    I like what Nick has said here. I couldn't have said it any better.

    Not all barefoot runners are purists, and not all barefoot runners are going to tell you barefoot or bust. I think if you find you can run safely in traditional running shoes, then why change anything, unless you want to try a new way of running, bring new interest to running, etc.? But then again, if you find the slightest inkling that there may be a problem with your AT (or any other place) even in shoes, then running in any form may not be the problem. What may be the problem is something much deeper, and you will really need to figure out why this keeps happening

    I am starting to believe that stretching an injury is a very BAD thing. I had PF from walking around on my heels for nearly three months trying to avoid putting weight on the balls of my feet after having cryosurgery for Morton's Neuroma, and after a few weeks of rehabbing it, following all the advice to stretch, buying the Step Strech and using it just as the brochure said and as often as advised, and wearing my night splints, I found that my calves just kept getting tighter and tigther and my PF kept getting worse. Just wearing the night splints, trying to sleep, became extremely painful. Using the stretch device was torture. I felt worse after I stretched each time. I honestly believe 100% that stretching made my condition much worse and still lives with me today.

    You need to massage the area, not stretch it. When you stretch injured tissue, you are preventing those fibers from healing. Part of the rebuilding process takes place at rest. When we stretch, especially too often, we are interrupting that healing process. Read the Sock Doc's article here: http://sock-doc.com/2011/04/stop-stretching/

    Good luck. I hope you find what it is that's causing you all this stress and pain, and I hope you find that healthy, happy way of running that works for you, shod or not. We're still here for you when you need us.
     
    Collapse Signature Expand Signature

Share This Page