|(Enjoying the view)|
After my race Sunday I was definitely tired but nothing out of the ordinary as far as muscle soreness goes. The next day I felt pretty good and decided to drive to a new park to run. It was a beautiful warm sunny day. I took Lilyana with me in the BOB and we headed out on the path. My right Achilles felt slightly tight but nothing painful.
We cruised along for about a mile, with people smiling, one older lady peaked in at Lily as we ran past and even exclaimed, “My, what an angel!” I smiled and thanked her and continued on my run. Then the path lost a lot of altitude. It got steep, really steep with switch backs. I slowed to basically a walk and maneuvered the stroller down the hill. There aren’t any handle brakes and it was hard to keep it in control just walking. When I got to the bottom I took off running and immediately felt a sharp needle like pain in my Achilles. I slowed then tried running again and it did it again, even worse. My Achilles completely locked up on me and it was quite painful to even walk. Since I was on a loop I had about two miles to get back to my car.
|(Beautiful day for a stroller ride)|
It was frustrating not to be able to run but I decided to enjoy the day and walk with my daughter and take pictures. The pain in my Achilles was all too familiar and I knew better than to continue trying to run to the car. With about a half mile to the car I encountered another issue. You are familiar with the saying, “What goes up must come down?” Well what goes down the trail must also come up. I had to push the stroller up a very steep incline to get back to the car and each step sent searing pain through my Achilles. I tried as best I could to somewhat stiff leg it so as not to aggravate the injury further and even took little breaks but my Achilles was angry at me and was letting me know it. To add insult to injury I saw a parking lot at the bottom of the hill that I didn’t know about. I would never have parked at the top and ran down had I known this.
|(Mom, why have we slowed down?)|
I got back to the car and headed home knowing it would be days before I can run again. I have dealt with Achilles issues in the past, always on my right side and I have learned the hard way not to run through them. Or even when the pain is gone I need to give it an extra day of rest. Before I became pregnant I constantly had pain in my right Achilles. It didn’t really bother me to run but it was always there, a nagging, constant pain. Well 6 weeks off for an MCL tear didn’t heal it but months off being pregnant and then having knee surgery did! For the first time in years when I started back training again I didn’t have Achilles pain and I am not about to start down that road of chronic pain again.
When I first had a Doctor look at my left knee (that I eventually had surgery on) he also did an ultrasound on my Achilles and told me he was more concerned about my Achilles than my knee if that gives you any idea what I was dealing with. So it has been four days of complete rest. I haven’t even cross trained as I have had trouble finding a place to do so. The first 3 days it hurt to just move my foot but today has been the best yet. I even did some lifting today and oddly it seemed to help. I want to go out and try jogging tomorrow but as I write this I am actually thinking about heeding my own advice and give it one more day of rest.
Obviously I am no expert when it comes to Achilles issues but here are some things that have helped me in the past:
- At the onset of pain stop whatever it is you are doing and get off your leg.
- Initially ice the area (I like to work the area above the Achilles).
- Massage the calf. I try not to massage the actual tendon as I feel this can just aggravate things more. I like to use an active release technique. I will massage the soleus, so a few inches above the heel, pushing the area with my thumbs. When I feel tightness I will push my thumbs into this area, hold it, then pump my foot up and down several times. I do this technique up my entire calf.
- If there is a lot of swelling I will take NSAIDs initially but I really try to stay away from these as I believe they can hinder the body’s natural healing response. I don’t take them for more than 24 hours. Since I am still breastfeeding and paranoid about anything like that in my system I opted to take some ibuprofen the night of my injury (since my baby sleeps at night) and that was it.
- Since mine was really painful just to stand I put on a pair of shoes that have a higher heel when walking around the house and that helped some. I only recommend this initially as you don't want to shorten the Achilles. It needs to be able to go through its full range of motion.
- Then I start incorporating some Eccentric heal drops. I did about 10 over 24 hours after the injury. It was painful but I make sure to only lower the injured leg and not rise up. Basically you start standing on your toes on a step. My right leg is injured so I will lift my left leg off the step and lower my right leg down (like you are doing a calf raise but only the lowering half). Then to get back to the starting position I raise with my uninjured (left leg) back to the starting point and repeat. The next day I did two sets. Today I did 4-6 sets throughout the day of 10 reps. I do calf raises/drops twice a week but need to be more diligent about doing these exercises and massaging my calf.
- I really believe in massaging the calf above the Achilles. I use a foam roller, Tigers Tail, trigger point roller and even my own body parts. If I am lying in bed I will take my calf and cross it over my opposite knee and use my knee to massage up and down my leg pausing to work out any knots I feel. The massage should not be a comfortable, feel good massage. You want to get in deep and work on those areas of tightness. It will not be comfortable.
- And lastly the only other thing to do is to wait. Give the injury time to heal. I know this advice sucks but if you try to come back while there is still pain you may find yourself sidelined again having to take more time off, or you can be hard headed and have pain the rest of your life and possibly do some serious damage. Trust me, it’s not worth it.