Achilles tendon injuries are common among runners and can significantly impact their ability to run. As a physiotherapist, it is essential to guide individuals through the recovery process and help them determine when it is safe to resume running. In this blog, we will discuss how to assess your readiness to return to running after an Achilles tendon injury and provide a structured approach to minimize the risk of re-injury.
1. Listen to Your Body:
The first key to determining when to start running again is to listen to your body. As you recover, pay attention to any pain, discomfort, or swelling in the Achilles tendon area. Gradually introduce activities that don’t aggravate your symptoms, such as walking or biking, and monitor your response. If your symptoms worsen, it’s a sign that you need more time to heal.
2. Consult with a Physiotherapist:
Seeking professional advice from a qualified physiotherapist is vital in establishing a personalized rehabilitation plan. They will assess your injury, consider your individual circumstances, and help you develop a safe and effective progression towards running. Physiotherapists also use specific tests, such as the single-leg heel raise, to determine your Achilles tendon strength and readiness for running.
3. Maintain Flexibility and Strength:
Building up strength and flexibility in the lower leg and ankle is crucial for a successful return to running. Your physiotherapist will prescribe exercises that target the Achilles tendon, calf muscles, and surrounding ligaments. These exercises may include calf raises, eccentric heel drops, towel curls, and calf stretches. Consistency and regular progression are key, avoiding overloading the tendon too soon.
4. Gradual Return to Running:
Returning to running involves a gradual and systematic progression. Following your physiotherapist’s guidance, start with a walk-run program, incorporating short bouts of gentle running interspersed with walking breaks. Begin with a slow pace, soft surfaces, and reduced frequency, gradually increasing the running intervals over time. Ensure you have adequate rest days between running sessions to allow for recovery.
5. Monitor for Warning Signs:
Pay close attention to any warning signs during your return to running phase. Excessive soreness, swelling, sharp pain, or a sudden increase in discomfort are signs that you may be pushing too hard or too fast. Adjust your training accordingly, and if necessary, consult your physiotherapist for further guidance or evaluation.
6. Consider Cross-training:
To aid in your recovery and reduce the risk of reinjury, consider incorporating
cross-training activities, such as swimming, cycling, or strength training, into your routine. These activities help maintain cardiovascular fitness and overall strength while reducing constant stress on the Achilles tendon.
Starting to run again after an Achilles tendon injury requires patience, proper rehabilitation, and careful monitoring of your progress. It is essential to work closely with a qualified physiotherapist who can tailor your recovery plan to your specific needs. Remember, the goal is not just to resume running but to do so safely and without risking further damage. By following these guidelines and listening to your body, you can gradually return to the activities you love while minimizing the risk of future Achilles tendon issues.
Consult your physiotherapist at 4053 6222