April 30, 2013

Did Running Zeal Result in a Painful Heel?

By Fiona Smith, DPT
Performance Physical Therapy

When warm weather arrived, did you enthusiastically lace up your running shoes and head out to beat your personal best? Has running outdoors left your heels aching and maybe even slightly swollen? Achilles tendonitis is a common condition caused by lack of flexibility of the calf muscles, lack of ankle mobility, or from beginning a running program too aggressively—without proper progression of mileage. The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscle to the heel. When a runner has Achilles tendonitis, the Achilles tendon becomes swollen near its insertion at the heel and is typically most painful in the morning and with high levels of activity. As the condition progresses, the heel can become painful even with daily activities.

If these symptoms are sounding familiar, do not despair because Performance Physical Therapy can help! Our physical therapists specialize in manual physical therapy, and we are dedicated to making the mechanics of our patients’ gait patterns as efficient as possible. Our treatments for Achilles tendonitis would involve stretching and strengthening of the ankle, but would also focus on removing any unnecessary stress on the ankle. For example, abnormal heel position— a heel deviated to the right or left—places extra stress on the Achilles tendon. Normalization of the heel position through joint mobilization allows healing in the Achilles tendon to occur more quickly and reduces the chance of re-injury. In this way, we can help you get back to running as quickly as possible to enjoy the all the great running weather!