Achilles tendons are my Achilles’ heel

Don’t do too much too fast. That’s the advice one hears most consistently from experienced barefoot runners. In my post Bad legs?…not by a long stretch, I suggested that extensive stretching had enabled me to ramp more quickly and had kept me from the calf and tendon problems that many others experience. I still believe in the efficacy of stretching, but having run 10 miles last week in my VFF Flows, I’m experiencing some soreness in my tendons.

Late last Spring, I tried to run through some Achilles tendonitis. I don’t recommend that approach; learned my lesson. So, I’ve taken a few days off (if you don’t count skiing and walking and, importantly, stretching). My sense is that raised heel shoes shorten the tendons and over time they shrink. Upon consideration, therefore, it doesn’t surprise me that it takes a while to get them fully stretched out. That’s why a second piece of advice from barefooters is key: Go barefoot a lot when you are not running.

Most barefoot runners will suggest that minimalist shoes are OK in some conditions, but that you should first establish your form in pure bare feet. My take is that an important reason for this is that the tender bottoms of your feet are great governors on your distance. As my reviews suggest, VFFs are great for Winter wear, but they probably allowed me to up my distance more rapidly than I should have. I’m noticing some mild bruising (nothing visible) on the balls of my feet. And, in general, I can tell that I am still building up the 20 or so muscles in each foot.

So, bottom line, take it easy guys. Your feet have been kickin’ back for years. It’s going to take a while to get them up to Neanderthal standards.

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2 Comments on “Achilles tendons are my Achilles’ heel”

  1. Kevin Says:

    Constant achilles problems killed my Sunday soccer playing activities a long time back. They’re real easy to aggravate, and take awhile to recover. Ended up hobbling around for days. I probably did not stretch enough, and the lack of frequent activity were likely causes. Be careful.

  2. Phil Odence Says:

    Agreed, Kevin, thanks. Funny you mention soccer. My ATs were a bit inflamed running, but it was a soccer game that put me over the edge and curtailed my running for several months. I did get the winning goal though!


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