My Achilles Has a History– Anyone Else?

Discussion in 'Barefoot & Minimalist Running' started by violamarie, Sep 26, 2011.

  1. violamarie

    violamarie
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    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. Shaun Mac

    Shaun Mac
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    I feel your pain, chronic

    I feel your pain, chronic achillies problems myself. I decided to try barefooting this summer after re-injuring one of mine during a 10K in shoes. I finally had enough and decided to try something completely different from what the sports injury guys kept telling me.....better shoes, heel lifts.

    I've been slowly working into it.....CORRECT FORM IS THE KEY! I basically took June and July off from running and pretty much started over from square one, this time barefoot. I've switched to minimal footwear for work, to keep the achilles from shortening up. It's getting better.

    I'll say it again, corrrect form is the key. I highly recommend Ken Bob's book. Bent knees, lifting the feet, 1-2-3 landing, allowing the heel to completely touch down and relax the calves. Im up to 2.5 miles now. If I do my job and concentrate on proper form my achilles don't hurt.
     
  3. Barefoot TJ

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    Are you allowing your heel to

    Are you allowing your heel to touch down while running?

    Please feel free to copy your post to the Ask the Docs forum. We have five doctors, all of whom run barefoot.

    Good luck.
     
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  4. violamarie

    violamarie
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    As far as I know it is

    As far as I know it is touching. I am not forcing a forefoot landing, just trying to let me foot land naturally so as not to overthink it. I think about lifting my feet and a light landing.
     
  5. jschwab

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    I am a chronic calf strain/AT

    I am a chronic calf strain/AT sufferer and one thing that has meant the difference for me has been wearing compression calf sleeves, RELIGIOUSLY. I have to wear them each and every single time I run, or bam.
     

  6. chuckcwall

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    Violamarie,I "feel your

    Violamarie,

    I "feel your pain" in the Achilles tendon. I hadn't run in years due to various injuries, then I read Born to Run and figured I'd try the minimalist thing with a pair of VFFs. And I immediately hurt myself with a strained Achilles tendon. That was in April, and now I would say that I'm 90% healed and comfortably running barefoot in the 2-3 mile range.

    I'm sure you'll get some good advice in the Ask the Docs forum. I can share what has helped me, which may or may not be helpful to you:

    1) Physical therapy.

    2) Took time off from running, and did lots of barefoot walking, varied terrain, up and down hills, etc.

    3) Lots of stretching & icing.

    4) When I was ready for short runs, I went completely barefoot on smooth pavement, no hills for the first few weeks.

    5) Took a Chi Running class to work on particulars of form and cadence, now I bring a metronome at 180bpm on every run to help me maintain cadence. I second the recommendations above about lifting the feet, when I focus on lifting it helps me not to push off, and pushing off can strain the Achilles.

    6) Weight-training at the gym, but I avoided jumping exercises for several months.

    7) Bought a pair of zero-drop shoes for work, where I stand a lot. These have been great for my posture.

    Good luck, and feel better soon!
     
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  7. Mandovark

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    I've had lots AT problems

    I've had lots AT problems over the last few years. A lot of the advice that I would give has already been said by others, but I'll just throw in a few things from my experience:

    1. Good form - whether barefoot or not - isn't a cure for an injury. Good form is a way of preventing injury, but in itself it won't fix something that is already broken. If you have an existing problem, you might need to give it more time/treatment before it's ready for any running.

    2. Build up very slowly. I currently run 1/2 mile 3-4 times per week. In peak marathon training I used to do 100+ miles per week, and I've tended to try to build up mileage too quickly when I've made comebacks. This time, I'm doing all my running barefoot and following Ken Bob's advice to run on some rougher ground, both as a way of improving form and to keep me from doing too much as my feet are still adapting. If you're anything like me, it's also useful to do some other sports (swimming and cycling for me) so that you don't feel like you're not doing anything if you're not running.

    3. Run relaxed. This is one of the main things that I have to concentrate on in terms of technique. Keep your feet and lower legs as relaxed as you possibly can. Don't try to brace your foot for the landing, just let it fall and concentrate on picking up your foot with the hamstring. If your lower leg is relaxed, your heel will normally touch the floor just after your forefoot - if it doesn't, you're probably tensing your calf to stop it, which is fatal for the AT.

    4. Stretch and do heel raises as often as possible, but always warm up first - at the very least, walk around for a few minutes before you stretch.

    5. If possible, ice your achilles after every run and whenever you can throughout the day, whether or not it feels like it needs it.

    That's what's working for me so far. Hope it's of some use to you. Good luck.
     
  8. Barefoot TJ

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    Stretching is questionable. 

    Stretching is questionable. Massaging and therapy instead of stretching is what is needed. Stetching continues to tear fibers that are trying to heal, from my understanding. Stretching is good to a point, but not for an injury. Don't stretch an injury. When I had PF at its worse, stretching and wearing a night splint actually caused more and more pain each time I did it until I realized that all the advice I was getting telling me I should be stretching was wrong. Dr. G (Sock Doc) confirms this. Read here: http://sock-doc.com/2011/04/stop-stretching/
     
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