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3 Quick Hacks to Immediately Fix Achilles Pain When Running

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Estimated read time: 3 minutes & 13 seconds

Do you have Achilles pain when running?

Don't let your Achilles be your "Achilles heel..."

3-2-1 GO


01| Fix Your Posterior Tibialis Insufficiency

Well that is a mouthful.... Let's break it down!

One of the main muscles that helps us push off from our toes when running is called the posterior tibialis. This muscle is also critical in keeping our foot from over pronating (aka it prevents the arch of your foot from collapsing down toward the ground). Posterior tib insufficiency is when this muscle isn't "sufficiently" strong enough to keep your foot from caving in.

When running, with every step you take you are actually creating a force of MORE THAN 2x your bodyweight that your legs have to be able to take on and support to first keep you from collapsing, and then to propel you forward.

The job of accepting all of this force is shared between your muscles, joints, and tendons/ligaments. Ideally your muscles are taking on the majority of this force; however, when you have less than ideal technique, the joints and tendons/ligaments end up taking a larger share of the work....

Specifically, when the arch of your foot collapses down ("over pronates"), the stress on your achilles tendon increases drastically.

For the long term fix you need to strengthen your posterior tibialis muscle (along with the small muscles in the arch of your foot), but in the short term, this is a time where more supportive shoes or even possibly orthotics might provide some benefit.

How do you strengthen your posterior tibialis? Heel raises, but with your toes angled inward.

picture of posterior tibialis

02| Incorporate a Heel Strike

Another amazing quick hack that you have at your disposal when trying to continue your running when dealing with Achilles pain is to modify where your foot first touches when it hits the ground.

As we discussed in our blog on fixing knee pain when running, when out on your jog, your 2 options are heel striking or midfoot striking. Let's be clear right away... there isn't a "right or wrong" here. There are world class marathon runners that do both of these styles and operate just dandy. However, by the forces through our body do change depending on which style you use.

By switching to a heel strike you can move a significant amount of stress away from your Achilles. It is important to note here that the stress doesn't disappear, but rather it gets put on other structures. In this case, you will be putting additional stress on your knees and hips. Nothing wrong with stress, but consider reducing your training miles when switching techniques to give your body time to adapt.

Heel strike example

03| Dry Needling for the Win!

In the studio at Thrive HQ, one of our go to treatments for helping resolve achilles pain fast is dry needling.

Yes, a weird name I must admit... but here is what it means:

-"Needle" because we use a small needle (about the thickness of a hair)

-"Dry" = because we aren't injecting anything (e.g. like a cortisone injection), but rather using the needle for the mechanical stimulus that is produced.

Dry needling can be tremendously effective at both speeding up the healing process of the achilles tendon as well as addressing tight calf muscles that can increase the stress on the achilles tendon.

I know it sounds counter intuitive at first, but one of the greatest aspects of dry needling is that it is significantly more comfortable than getting a massage or having a metal scraping tool (e.g. "Graston") on your calf muscles. But it doesn't stop there... research and our own expereience strongly supports dry needling being much more successful than either of these. A two for one!

Sound like something that could help you speed up the process?? Schedule a session with us, and see how dry needling can help you get out of pain and recover faster.


Take home point...

  • Make sure your posterior tibialis is strong enough.

  • Consider temporarily switching to a heel strike if you are normally a midfoot striker.

  • If you want to speed up the process, schedule a session with us, and do some dry needling.


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