From Sydney West Sports Medicine, NAB RunWest Injury Management specialists; https://swsm.com.au/contact/
As we get closer to the inaugural NAB RunWest everyone is turning up the training dial. You may be completing longer runs, and if you’ve been following The Can Too Training Guide certainly a couple of hills for good measure. Unfortunately for some runners this can lead to calf or achilles pain.
How Do I Make the Pain Go Away?
The best thing to do is to get your pain properly assessed by a physiotherapist who can tailor your rehabilitation specifically to your injury and your goals. Below are some general tips which may help you:
1. For Acute Pain Follow the P.O.L.I.C.E Principle
Protect from further injury. Optimise Load – to start recovery. ICE – Ice, Compress, Elevate
2. Commence an Isometric Loading Program for Those Irritable Tendons
You want to load the tendon to stimulate recovery. Isometric exercises have been shown to be effective for short term pain relief for patella tendinopathies and many people have found this equally effective for the Achilles. A good starting point is a single leg heel raise off the edge of a step (see picture below), holding for 45 seconds and completing 5 repetitions. It is ok for some discomfort but stop if the Achilles tendon becomes too uncomfortable.
3.Get Strong and Don’t Forget Soleus.
Make sure to complete calf raise variations with a straight knee AND a bent knee (see examples below). Soleus works hardest when the knee is slightly bent a big part of the running motion.
4. Get Dynamic
Running is explosive. Make sure your strengthening program includes explosive movements such as skipping, hopping, jumping or bounding to improve muscle and tendon loading. Grab a rope and try skipping for a few minutes – I’m sure it will be harder than you remember.
5. Run as Quietly as You Can
Don’t be the loudest runner on the treadmill. If you are slapping the ground with your feet you are not absorbing force well which can cause other problems. Listen to your feet and run a softly as you can. You may need to shorten your stride to do this.
6. Improve Your Balance
The average adult on average can only stand on one leg for 33 seconds with their eyes open. Eyes closed balance is even worse with an average of just 8 seconds. Balance is critical for foot and ankle control. For runner’s, being able to perform an effective foot plant and release not only protects from injury but can make you faster by having a more powerful push off.
What Could Be Causing My Pain?
The reason for pain can change depending on your age.