1. Running Break
This seems like the most obvious step to take, but it was the most difficult part of the healing process. As athletes we can get pretty obsessed with our race goals and skipping a workout can seem like a last resort type of decision. You want to allow the tendon to rest and heal, continuing to add stress by running can lead to further damage and even a rapture. It took me several weeks of delaying this crucial decision. When my Achilles started ‘creaking’ like on old door I finally decided to seek help.
Since I kept running while the tendon was in quite a bit of pain the situation kept getting worse. But because my 70.3 race was less than two weeks away I became desperate to try anything. Finally, I listened to my wife’s advice and went to see her acupuncturist. I skeptically went into his office, and I was shocked.
Not once did the acupuncturist even touch my leg, I doubt he even looked at it. He gently inserted 7 hair thin needles into the side of my left wrist and then asked me to perform a calf raise. I was shocked because the pain was gone instantly.
He explained to me that the problem wasn’t quite fixed yet, he simply unblocked the pain receptors to allow the healing process to begin.
At that point he gained my trust, and when he asked me to stop running for a few days I finally listened.
3. Gel Inserts
Around that time I was working with a client who was a podiatrist and he gave me another great tip which made a huge difference in my accelerated recovery. He explained how the Achilles tendon is attached at the back of the heel and every time your heel strikes the ground while walking you’re causing more impact and stress to the attachment of the tendon and it can cause more swelling around the area. So he recommended I insert very simple gel wedges under the heels for a couple weeks that will absorb some of that shock to the tendon allowing it to regenerate faster.
4. Ice & heat
I iced my Achilles tendon in the mornings for about 10 minutes then took a hot shower, and iced again for a few minutes after. Ice helps reduce the swelling, but alternating with heat will also improve circulation.
5. Foam Rolling
Tight calves obviously can add quite a bit of tension to the Achilles as well so I made sure to roll them out daily to release some of that tension as well as improve circulation.
From the moment I stopped running and went in for acupuncture it took just under two weeks to recover. And yes, I still raced at Steelhead 70.3 after that break from running. Not only did I set a new Half Iron PR, but I also ran my fastest half marathon in a 70.3.
Since 2001 Peter has worked with individuals from many backgrounds, some taking up exercise for the first time looking for weight loss and toning, and others seeking guidance with a more extreme goal of training for an Ironman triathlon. Peter has published articles in the Competitor Magazine, some of his work was also featured by USA Triathlon, Golf Fitness Magazine and Colorado Runner website.
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