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Preventing Achilles Tendonitis When Training For A Marathon

If you’ve decided to run your first or your next marathon this year, it’s great that you’ve set a new fitness goal that you want to achieve. However, even if this isn’t your first marathon, it won’t be easy to reach your goal. It’s going to take months of training to prepare for the big day, and you don’t want anything to stand in your way. Injuries are the most common threat to running goals, and one of the most common injuries is Achilles tendonitis. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at Achilles tendonitis and explain how to keep the condition from impacting your marathon training.

Understand Achilles Tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis is an uncomfortable condition categorized by microtearing and inflammation in the Achilles tendon, which is the strongest tendon in your body that runs down the back of your leg and connects to the heel. Your Achilles handles an immense amount of strain when you’re running, so it should come as no surprise that it is an area prone to injury during marathon training.

Achilles tendonitis typically develops as a result of repetitive stress on the tendon. Some stress and microdamage is expected and even helpful during exercise. After intense exercise, your body works to repair these soft tissues, and once the healing process has run its course, you are actually stronger than you were originally. However, problems develop when you don’t give your body enough time to recover after suffering this microtrauma. Continuing to stress the area before it heals can lead to more tissue tearing and the onset of painful inflammation.

Preventing Achilles Tendonitis During Marathon Training

Now that you understand the mechanism behind Achilles tendonitis onset, it’s easy to see why marathon training can lead to Achilles tendonitis if you’re not careful. Two key factors come into play here:

  • Increased Stress On The Achilles – Even if you’re a pretty regular runner, if you’re training for a marathon, you’re going to be putting more miles on your body as you prepare for the race, and this increased stress will lead to increased microtrauma on the Achilles.
  • Limited Rest – You run quite frequently over the course of weeks or months in preparation for your race, and your body may not be used to that much stress in that short of a time period. If you start training late or follow a program that’s not suited to your skill level, you may not be giving yourself enough time to recover during training, which means microtears don’t fully heal and can persist or grow in size.

Knowing this, we can take some simple steps to work to prevent Achilles tendonitis as you prepare for your upcoming marathon. The best advice we can give is to:

  • Give yourself plenty of training time so that you don’t have to increase your distance too quickly.
  • Follow a marathon training program suited to your pace or overall running skill level.
  • Stay hydrated and consume a healthy diet during training so that your body has access to the nutrients it needs to fuel activity and recovery after exercise.
  • Wear comfortable and supportive running shoes throughout training.
  • RICE after running (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation)
  • Stretch before and after activity to help your soft tissues transition from an inactive to an active state and vice versa.

And finally, be sure to connect with a foot and ankle specialist like Dr. McDonald if you are dealing with new or worsening pain in your Achilles region. Trying to push through the pain can lead to worsening symptoms or even a complete rupture of the Achilles, which would certainly put a damper on your marathon goal. Proactively treat any new foot or ankle issues so that symptoms resolve instead of lingering. If you need help with this process, we’re here for you.

For more information, or for help overcoming uncomfortable Achilles tendonitis, reach out to Dr. McDonald and his team today at (860) 244-8889.

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