I have been running as my major workout activity for years and I have recently developed Achilles heel tendonitis. I have been fitted for orthotics, but have not started using them yet, and I have been told by my general practitioner to stop running for anywhere from 4 week to 3 months! What should I do? I have been doing easy SLOW 5ks occasionally and bike and walk only recreationally not as a workout. I have also started incorporating yoga (flow hot yoga) which I do about once a week and I could swim, but I cannot fathom NOT running for that long!
I 100% understand your frustrations. I have been told more than once that I cannot run for an extended period of time, and I am like a bull in a cage after a few weeks. Good news is, this won’t last forever and it is a chance for you to focus on other things, such as swimming and yoga, which are activities that might not be given much of your attention during running season.
You need to listen to your doctor and rehabilitation therapist, as they know what they are talking about. However, take that 3 month timeline as an idea of when you will be back to running the mileage that you are used to. Until then, talk to your physiotherapist about how to gradually start running, as getting out and running 5km when you have been off for an extended period of time is only going to inflame your Achilles.
When you have the clear to start running again, I would suggest starting with 30 seconds of running and 4 and a half minutes of jogging for the first week. Each week that follows, add 30 seconds of running and remove 30 seconds of walking, until you are running 30 minutes pain free. You will need to gradually strengthen your running to ensure you do not experience injury again. Click here for a refresher on my favourite exercises to prevent running injuries, and add these to your daily workouts.
Be careful with cycling, as cycling is known for tightening up the calves. If you are riding outside, spend a few minutes after your ride to strengthen your glutes, hamstrings and calves, and if you are spinning then hang out on your bike for a few minutes hanging your heels down for a deep stretch.
And invest in one of these balls – I honestly do not leave home without mine. My favourite routine with this ball is rolling it up and down each tendon from your toes to your heel 5 times, then step your arch directly onto the ball 5 times (this can be painful but is so worth it) and for the deepest of calf stretches, finish with placing the ball under your “toe knuckles’ with your heel on the floor and the other leg forward.
If you do all of this, you should be back and running in no time.