How to Prevent Achilles Tendonitis

In the past few months I have been coming across quite a few runners who have been dealing with foot injuries, plantar fasciitis and Achilles issues. Achilles injuries (Achilles Tendonitis) is a very common injury amongst runners, it can be very painful, and stressful. All the force when you “toe off” the ground while running is transmitted by the Achilles, this force can be as much as 2-3 times our body weight. The faster we run, the more strain on the Achilles.

Symptoms of Achilles injuries include tightness, aching, creaking of the tendon and heel pain. The Achilles tendon is the strongest tendon in the body, but with very little blood flow. It connects the calf muscles to the back of the heel. The tendon is made of tiny collagen strands aligned together, pain or injury of the Achilles is a result of damage to the collagen. When the tendon is damaged, the collagen fibres are ruptured, the body is able to repair itself by laying down new fibres to replace the damaged ones, but it does so in a disorganized way. The collagen fibres in a healthy Achilles tendon are aligned and smooth, but in an injured tendon the new fibres look like a mess of spaghetti, that’s when we feel the collagen build ups (knots) usually 5cm above the heel. When the collagen fibres are not aligned, doing calf stretches alone might do more harm than good, that’s when massaging the tendon is crucial, to massage the Achilles after running helps to increase the blood flow and release the tension.
Our Achilles are connected to our calves, hamstrings, glutes and hip flexors, to release and stretch all those muscles can help prevent Achilles injuries. Most Achilles injuries occur midpoint of the tendon, a few centimeters above the heel, other injuries occur within 2.5cm of the heel bone (insertional).

Causes of Achilles injuries

  • Excessive stress on the tendon
  • Speed training
  • Uphill running
  • Forefoot striking
  • Weak calf muscles
  • Poor ankle range of motion
  • Excessive pronation
  • Tight hamstrings and calf muscles

How to treat Achilles injuries

  1. Ice the tendon.
  2. Massage the tendon to activate the blood flow to promote healing.
  3. Foam roll the calf muscle, hamstrings.
  4. Massage the plantar fascia by using a golf ball.
  5. Stretch the Achilles tendon and calf muscles by pressing your foot against the wall, hands against the wall, move up and forward- hold for 30secs.

How to prevent an Achilles injury

 

  1. Strengthen the tendon by performing an eccentric exercise (heel drop); standing on a step on one leg, slowly lower your heel and come back. If you feel pain during the drop, use your other leg to come back up. Perform 3 sets of 15 reps twice/day. This eccentric exercise selectively damages the Achilles tendon by stripping away the misaligned tendon fibres, allowing the body to lay down new fibres in alignment to the healthy collagen fibres.

 

  1. Massaging the tendon up & down using the thumb and fingers, will stimulate blood flow, breakdown the collagen build-up and align the new collagen fibres. This should be done after every long runs.

Prevent Achilles Injuries, Strong, Healthy & Happy Running!

KATIA

Why Do We Need Proper Fueling During Long Runs

 

When we’re running long distances, our body needs proper fueling to keep it going. Not consuming enough energy such as carbohydrates, and electrolytes, even during long distance runs we will need some protein to refuel our body. According to our body type, some runners might even crave some small portions of healthy fat during Ultras. If we don’t consume enough energy according to our running distance, the side effects will be intense, our body energy will crash, fatigue will sink in, muscle soreness, brain fatigue and demotivation will increase. Proper fueling during our runs will not only support our energy levels during our runs, but it will also help with recovery. If our body gets depleted during our run, our body will have more difficulty to recover, it can create more muscle damage and soreness, and longer fatigue.

 

Same side effects with dehydration, if we don’t consume enough electrolytes, water, or sports drinks, our body will be depleted of essential vitamins and minerals, which will take days to replenish, so our body and mind will feel sore and tired. When doing long-distance runs, we also need to follow a good fueling schedule and timing according to the running intensity and our body type. We have to set up a fueling timing so that we don’t start consuming some carbs only once our body gets hungry or tired, by then it will be too late to refuel enough.

 

What our Body Needs for Energy Fueling

 

  1. Eat carbohydrates for energy– Carbs are the main nutrient we need while running. Carbs get converted quickly into energy, so we get the boost we need to keep running. After 30km our body will also run out of stored carbs, which causes our body to crash.

 

Good fueling carbs: Gels, chews, bananas, dates, energy bars, sports drinks.

 

  1. Eat small amounts of protein and fats– Small amounts of protein and fat can help nourish our body so we don’t feel hungry during long runs. To avoid stomach issues, we need to eat only small portions of protein and fat during long runs.

 

Good protein and fat sources: Nuts are a great source of protein and fat, and nut butter. Energy bars with some nuts are also great sources of protein, Spring Sports gels with 100% natural foods.

 

  1. Consume enough electrolytes– For runs longer than 60-90 mins we will lose electrolytes in our system, we need to replenish our body to avoid getting depleted of the essential electrolytes; potassium, magnesium, sodium, calcium, vitamin C. Electrolytes depletion can cause some similar issues as low-carb fueling.

Electrolytes sources: Electrolytes tablets, sports drinks, salt tablets, coconut water.

 

  1. Caffeine for energy boost– Consuming caffeine during runs longer than 30-40km can give us some helpful energy boost. Caffeine also blocks some of the pain in long runs or races, and helps us to focus, and it can even help our body to burn some fat for fueling.

Sources of caffeine: Gels with caffeine, coffee drinks, green tea drinks or electrolytes with caffeine.

 

  1. Pre-run fueling– To consume some pre-run carbohydrates, and easy to digest foods is essential to support our body energy.

Some easy to digest foods such as bananas, energy bars, oatmeal, dates, granola bars or according to our run start schedule a light meal 1 1/2-3 hours before the run can help fuel the body.

 

Proper Fueling Strategy

 

  1. Determine how many carbohydrates our body needs- According to our body weight and running distance we should consume minimum 1-1.5g of carbs/kg of bodyweight per hour. The recommendation is 30-90 grams/hour according to our body type. Some runners need more carbs 60-100 grams/hour, or some more protein and fat.
  2. Fuel in slowly- If we consume our fueling foods in one gulp, we might get some stomach cramps and bloating. We need to spread out our fuel consumption within the hour. To consume 20g of carbs every 20 minutes will fuel the body properly. Same with our water and drinks, we have to take sips every 10-15 mins. If we drink a big gulp of liquid, our body can only absorb a certain amount, the rest we will have to release and our stomach will get bloated.
  3. Train for your run fueling- To practice and test the type of foods, gels and electrolytes our body will be happy with is part of some long-distance training sessions. To figure out what type of carbs and electrolytes our body absorbs and processes properly will make a huge difference in our runs or races.
  4. Daily life proper fueling and nutrition- Under-fueling, or not eating enough nutrients in our daily life can affect our performance, strength and muscle/joint issues. Eating enough and the right amount of nutrients can power our training, and is a better, safer strategy in the long term for both our body and mind. Not consuming enough calories or nutrients to match our activity levels can trigger a health condition called Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (Red-S) Syndrome. This condition can affect many of our physiological systems (metabolism, bone health, immunity, cardiovascular and psychological health).

Runners with good energy balance, diet, and run fueling are stronger, feel better, have more endurance, less muscle and joint pain.

Fuel Well, Eat Well, Run Strong!

KATIA

Stretches to Prevent Plantar Fasciitis for Runners

 

If you run regularly and feel pain in the heel of your foot, then there’s a chance you might be suffering from plantar fasciitis. This is a common overuse injury that can affect your running and training.

 

What is Plantar Fasciitis

 

Every time your foot hits the ground, it absorbs the impact of about two and a half times your body weight. Add that up over hundreds of kilometres, your feet might get tired, and runners get injured often in the lower legs. That’s why the feet are some most injury-prone areas in a runner’s body. Plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis are some of the most common injuries. The plantar fascia consists of a band of deep tissue that stretches from the heel bone to the toes. The band supports the arch and provides shock absorption and cushioning when standing, walking and running. It also allows to point and flex the toes. Plantar fasciitis is deformation or a tear of this band of tissue, and it’s one of the worst running nightmares.

 

The most common issues that cause plantar fasciitis:

 

  • High arches
  • Flat feet
  • Sudden increases in training intensity/distance
  • Weight gain
  • Non-fit running shoes
  • Bad running form
  • Not enough post-run stretches

 

How to Prevent and Relief Plantar Fasciitis Pain

 

Choose Good Running Shoes

If you have plantar fasciitis, running shoes with plenty of arch support, shock absorption, cushioning, and a deep heel cup will help alleviate foot pain as well as avoid it in the future. You may add a shock-absorbent insole for extra comfort. Look for running shoes that suit your foot type and biomechanics and avoid flat running shoes. If you run often or long-distance, replace your running shoes on a regular basis (usually every 600 to 800km) because the structure of the shoes even if we can’t see it, can wear down over time.

 

Apply Ice

Plantar fascia pain is mostly caused by swelling, turning to ice therapy can help soothe pain and reduce inflammation, especially if symptoms persist. Hold an ice pack over the affected area for 10 to 15 minutes three or four times a day. You can also roll the affected foot over a frozen water bottle for a few minutes. Also, remember to ice your foot right after running or extended periods of standing or sitting.

 

7 Stretches to Release Plantar Fascia

Plantar fasciitis might be caused by tightness in the muscles surrounding your feet, causing tension and leading to pain beyond the heel. Regular stretching can help soothe tension in the foot and calf. This can help relieve pain and improve your symptoms over time.

 

  1. The Plantar Fascia
  • Begin by sitting down and crossing your right foot over the left. Grab your toes and gently pull them back toward the shin to stretch the arch of the foot.
  • Hold the position for a count of ten then repeat 8 to 10 times. You should feel the stretch in the back of the injured foot, just above the heel.

 

  1. The Calves
  • Start by standing facing a wall and placing your hands flat against it. Step your right foot behind the left, keeping both feet parallel to each other and toes pointing forward toward the wall.
  • Next, straighten your right leg and gently lean toward the wall by bending the left knee while keeping your back heel on the ground. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, and then switch feet.

 

  1. Extended Wide Squat
  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips. Bend your knees, and lower your hips down toward the ground. If your heels don’t touch the ground, roll up a towel or the back of your mat, and place it under your heels for support.
  • Bring your palms together at your heart center, and firmly press your elbows against the inside of your knees. This will help to open your hips even further. Hold for 30 secs.
  • Next, release the hands to the floor and walk them away from your feet to increase the stretch in the hips and lower back. Press the heels down and hold for another 30 secs.

 

  1. Runner’s Lunge
  • Starting in a plank position with the shoulders over the wrists, step your left foot forward to the outside of your left hand.
  • Hold for five breaths, actively pressing the right heel back.
  • Step the left foot back and repeat with the right knee bent for 30 secs.

 

  1. Tip Toe Single Leg Down Dog
  • From a plank position, lift your hips up, coming into the upside down V position known as downward dog. Hold here for 15-20 secs, pressing the heels toward the floor to stretch the calves.
  • Step the feet together so the big toes are touching. Inhale to raise your left leg into the air, holding single leg dog for 10 secs.
  • Then come into Tip Toe Single Leg Dog by lifting the right heel as high as you can to stretch the arch of the right foot.
  • Hold here for 15-20 secs, keeping the shoulders parallel to the floor.
  • Lower the left foot back to the floor and repeat Tip Toe Single-Leg Dog and Tip-Toe Single-Leg Dog on the right side.
  • Lower the right foot and come back to Down Dog for another 15-20 secs, trying to lower the heels even more, feeling a deeper stretch in the calves.

 

  1. Toe-Breaker Pose
  • Kneel on the floor. Tuck your toes toward your knees. Stay here if this is enough of a stretch, or if you want to go deeper, slowly lower your pelvis to sit on your heels.
  • Hold this stretch for 20-30 secs, leaning the torso back if you want to intensify the stretch. Don’t forget to breathe.

 

  1. Seated Shin Stretch
  • Begin seated on your shins.
  • Interlace your hands behind you in a double fist, pressing the heels of your palms together. Pull your pressed palms toward the floor, opening through the chest and shoulders.
  • Or for an even deeper stretch, rest your hands on the floor behind you, raising your knees off the floor slightly to increase the stretch in the front of your feet and shins.
  • Breathe deeply for 20-30 secs.

Sport Tape

To manage plantar fasciitis, try taping your feet. Sports tape improves blood flow, provides support, and helps reduce inflammation and swelling with soft compression. It also helps support the affected limb and keeps it from moving in a way that worsens your symptoms. Sports taping offers short term pain relief for patients with plantar fasciitis.

 

Physio Therapist

To see a physio therapist can help to diagnose what causes the plantar fasciitis and get some good therapy. They can check if the pain you’re dealing with is actually from plantar fasciitis and provide you with a recommendation if it isn’t.

 

Stretch your Feet, Release Plantar Fascia, Keep Running Strong & Feel Great!

KATIA