Why won’t my Achilles’ heal?

No, I’m not really whining, but I am coming to respect the biggest challenges I am facing: Stretching my tendons and keeping my mileage reined in.

My expectation going into this thing was that work was going to be toughening my soles. That turns out to be pretty much a non-issue. It was a beautiful 45 degrees yesterday, and I got out for a two mile run on bare soles and followed with another two miles of barefoot walking. No prob. But I hobbled out of bed this morning.

OK, I know I’ve been going farther faster than anyone recommends, so shame on me. But what runner wants to cut back their mileage? I initially tried mixing barefoot and shoe running, though I’ve not put my running shoes on for a couple weeks, since my VFFs arrived. After a few three mile VFF runs, I was feeling my Achilles tendons, and so took a week off (although I walked two or three miles most days). And, I’ve been stretching like crazy, extensive leg stretches several times a day. But, after yesterday’s mileage, I’m amazed at the effort it’s taking to get these crazy tendons of mine up to snuff.

I am sure this is primarily due to 8 solid years of running in modern running shoes with built up heels causing my tendons to shrink. But, it does make me wonder if there’s something in my stride. This post by Barefoot Ken Bob would suggest, I might have some work to do. I was hoping to join a Metro Boston Barefoot Runners clinic next Saturday, but it looks like I’ll be out of town and so will wait for the March one.

So, I’ve hit the Vitamin I (ibuprofen), hot/cold packs and stretch, stretch, stretch. I’ve been through this drill before. Any thoughts, recommendations, empathy?

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4 Comments on “Why won’t my Achilles’ heal?”

  1. Dude (as Ted would say),

    You have LESS work to do, not more!

    Rather than working to stretch your Achilles tendons, relax them, and let them stretch.

    Relax, relax, relax.

    Let your heels touch the ground. If you feel pounding on your heels, instead of working your Achilles and trying to push up on your forefoot, relax, bend your knees, and run LOWER. When we bend our knees, our heels will lift off the ground. When you’ve bent your knees enough, that while you’re relaxed, your heels begin to lift off the ground, without trying to lift your heels off the ground, THEN you have found your natural springs.

    Hope that helps.

    P.S. Lose the vitamin “I”, especially when you’re walking or running. It blocks the pain that tells us to change the way we’re running. In other words, pain-avoidance is how we learn to improve our running. And pain-killers kill our pain-avoidance instinct. Let your knees go limp, as if you just stepped on a sharp stone in your bare feet, and you’ll begin to understand.

    • Phil Odence Says:

      Thanks for keeping an eye on me and sharing the wisdom. I did consult your blog this morning on this and I am planning to look for the springs as you describe, but figure I need to do at least a few days of rehab before I should give it a go. I have tried the little standing still exercise you describe and I get the idea.
      Also take your point on the “I” and I realize it’s not a good idea to use it while active.
      Again, thanks. It’s great the way you are looking out us newbies.

      • If you listen to your body, and your bare soles, you may find (or not) that you don’t need the rehab. Many of your pains, even existing ones, should disappear when you remove the cause of the stress. This is a perfect opportunity to figure out how to avoid exacerbating the existing pain.

        In short, play with your springs, if it hurts, play differently. If it still hurts, stop.

        Have fun,
        -barefoot ken bob

  2. […] Barefoot? Phil A possible running adventure « Why won’t my Achilles’ heal? […]

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