Trying to Out-run Achilles Tendonitis

There are many treatments for Achilles tendonitis/tendonosis [-isis = inflammation of; -osis = condition of]. The best advice to everyone is not to have Achilles tendonitis issues in the first place and then secondly if you do have it – take care of it early and don’t let it become chronic. For those of us unlucky enough to have it chronically, there haven’t been many treatment breakthroughs – until the past few years. ASTYM and PRP are two more recent treatments – neither of which had I personally tried until this summer.

To get up to speed on causes, treatments and discussions on Achilles tendonitis here are past posts:

Achilles Tendon Central
Achilles Tendon Treatments
Achilles Tendonitis – Recovery & Workouts

Achilles Tendon – Comeback Case Study
How do you get fast if you have Achilles tendonitis?
Diagnose and Treat Achilles Tendons
More On Achilles Tendons II
Achilles Tendon – Comeback Case Study – 6 Month Follow-Up

I fought tendonitis off and on over the past two years to the point that now I not only could not run but limped often after long days of just standing on my feet or did any number of daily activities. I do believe in going conservative in treatments and doing the most invasive as a last resort. This past spring I had ASTYM treatments performed.

ASTYM treatments can be provided only by a therapist certified in ASTYM. They use hard plastic devices to “strip” the muscle and/or tendon that is effected. Substantial pressure is delivered. It has worked well for many runners I know for tendonitis related issues. I have spoken to many runners about the treatments and results have been overwhelmingly positive.

The treatments I had were not as uncomfortable as had been reported to me. Nor did I bruise as others have. Renata at Spooner Physical Therapy was my therapist for the treatments. Some really great points about ASTYM is that it is non-invasive (though it can feel like it is quite invasive), and that part of the process is to have the athlete continue doing their sport! That in itself is unusual as most often rest is a key component to treating tendonitis as well as so many other running related injuries.

After warming up on an stationary cycle, the treatments themselves were brief (15 minutes or so) and were followed by exercises and many typical physical therapy maneuvers. Renata related to me that the discomfort is highly individual. The bruising – she found more pronounced in her women patients. I did not bruise at all though the area was sensitive after treatments.

My results were mixed. It alleviated most of my symptoms except one pesky area that was hard to reach because it was on the side of the tendon facing my tibia (hard to explain) – it couldn’t be reached from the outside. The pain was reduced and I was able to run this summer to some degree but just couldn’t completely rid myself of it and anything above an easy jog or standing for long periods just brought it all back.

At the beginning of the summer, I visited Dr. Armendariz at TOCA group in Phoenix. We agreed to take 3 months and see if I could “run my way out of the tendonitis” before finally deciding on the next step – surgery. He felt that it was possible that (and has seen it before) that it could resolve with increased blood flow and range of motion work. After an up and down summer of trying to run, we mutually agreed that surgery was in order.

I couldn’t outrun the achilles tendonitis.


About Dean Hebert

I’m a mental game coach, author and speaker. I work with individual athletes, parents, coaches, and teams on sports performance enhancement. Beyond my academic post-graduate work in sports psychology - the psychology behind athlete performance – I am a certified Mental Games Coaching Professional (MGCP) and certified hypnotherapist. I’ve authored several books and hundreds of articles. “Coach, I didn’t run because…” (2008) is a seriously light-hearted look at making excuses not to workout and how to overcome them. “Focus for Fitness” (2009) and “Screw the Goals Give me the Donut” (2010) are two of my eBooks on mental game approaches for the everyday athlete. I wrote these because I believe that everyone can benefit from the powerful mental techniques that the world’s best athletes use. I have been cited in Runners World, Best Health magazine (CN), SWEAT Magazine, and the Washington Examiner amongst many other publications. I have been a featured mental games coach in Runner’s World and for the internationally acclaimed trail running resource - I also regularly appear on sports and fitness talk shows such as LTKFitness, Runnersroundtable and for more than three years I have co-hosted a weekly video series with Coach Joe English for I specialize in mental toughness training. My clients include tennis, synchronized swimming, golf, race-kart, soccer, motocross, volleyball, MMA, cycling (road, off-road, time-trialist), running, duathlon and triathlon, basketball, football and baseball athletes. I have coached world-class athletes and athletes internationally. I have a passion for working with youth athletes and helping them apply mental game skills and techniques to all areas of life. Most importantly, my aim is to have people enjoy sports and life to their fullest through peak performances.
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7 Responses to Trying to Out-run Achilles Tendonitis

  1. Pingback: Trying to Out-run Achilles Tendonitis « The Running World … | Foot Pain Causes

  2. John M says:

    Sorry to hear about your achilles problem and I hope you get it fully sorted soon. You say the best thing to do is to take care of it early and not let it become chronic. How did this happen with you, do you think? What caused it in the first place, and what allowed it to become chronic (i.e., in retrospect what should you have done or not done)?

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Good question.
      The key elements that caused mine to be chronic are too many miles too many hills too little recovery time after hard workouts. I was coached with a “more is better” and “endure whatever to be a better runner” philosophy. Mentally I am very strong and can push my body. The damage done when I was 19-25 plus the surgery @ 26 and post surgical scarring etc. (inevitable) follows me. It’s the proverbial – “If I knew then what I know now” situations and is one reason why I coach today – so that others don’t make my mistakes.

  3. Pingback: Trying to Out-run Achilles Tendonitis « The Running World … | Pain On Foot

  4. Pingback: Achilles Tendon – PRP – Post-Surgery Update | The Running World According to Dean

  5. Rick Schoby says:

    I’m a runner age 61 I’ve ran 39 marathons and now I have a problem with my left Achilles. I was given a Flector patch and it works a little. What is your advice, surgery or just keep running on a flat service. any advice would be appreciated.
    Rick Schoby

    • Dean Hebert says:

      First, surgery should always be a last resort. If I had to do it over here is exactly what I would do:
      1. rest like I should
      2. get ASTYM treatments
      3. see a physical therapist with a systems approach like that from Gray Institute
      4. get the PRP injection

      In that order. So depending on what you have done and how bad it is determines your next steps. But, surgery would be last resort… though, as you can see, I have had to resort to it several times. There is simply no telling if it has made me more susceptible to injuries or really helped fix me.

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