Monday, May 6, 2013

Achilles Tendinitis: My latest joy!

Waking up in the morning and stepping down with my full weight on my left foot I noticed my Achilles tendon was tight and quite tender. A few steps later the pain and it's accompanying limp started to subside. By the time my shower and morning routine were over the pain was basically gone. Must be the result of the back to back races last week I thought and paid it no more attention. I had just run the Napa Valley Marathon and then six days later ran the Way Too Cool 50k so I deserved some lingering effects. 
I have a 40 minute commute to work and again stepping out of my truck I was reduced to a serious limp for half the parking lot before the pain subsided and the flexibility of my ankle returned. More proof that I did something to be proud of was my thinking. Along with the fact that it might be in my best interest to go easy on tonight's run. I did not notice the pain again until I got up from sitting at my desk for quite some time. This was starting to become annoying.  Everytime I rested my legs via sleeping,  driving or sitting my Achilles would flair when I "woke it up". I honestly thought this was a short term side effect. When the pattern kept repeating itself for days on end I got a little more concerned about it but still not enough to be proactive in solving the issue. It will work itself out in time was my primary thought as I soldiered on with my running schedule. A month later I ran the Croom Fools 50k. The Achilles problem never really left but it had gotten less frequent and less severe. Days after the race it was apparent that the problem andthe pain was back in full force.  Stretching it became habitual as I tried to keep it loose all throughout the day. It didn't get better. Here I am a month later and every morning and every time I'm off my feet the pain is there. I have finally decided to take it seriously and look into solving this problem as the pain of having a tight Achilles was lasting pretty much all day unless im 3 miles into a run.

The first thing I wanted to know was how did I get this.  My research found that upping your training intensity and/or frequency was the likely culprit and in my case that makes sense. What it is exactly is an overuse injury where small stresses accumulate and damage the tendon. The only way to avoid further pain was to rest it because the inflammation is at the narrow point of the tendon just above the heel. That area has the smallest blood supply so healing time is super slow. Re-aggrivating the tendon day after day is a vicious cycle. Two weeks off is the commonly prescribed lay off from all weight bearing activities. Ha! I'm not taking two weeks off.  I may regret that but I just can't imagine no running for more than week.  I'm going out of town this weekend so the plan is to take Wednesday through Sunday off. That's an amazingly long time off as far as I'm concerned.
On Monday I'll start back up on my running schedule at a reduced effort and incorporate a calf stretching and strengthening routine. I'll be sure to do most of my runs barefoot as well. Problems just seem to disappear when the zero drops come out. According to Runners World the rehab process can last as little as 1 to 2 weeks if the injury is mild but the average time is 7 to 8 weeks.  I'm rooting for the latter.
 
As you can tell I'm not thrilled about any of this.  I'm reluctantly talking time off and only half the recommended amount.  We shall see how the Achilles responds and I'll get back to you.
 
See you next week
Jonathan