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"How do senior runners prevent achilles injuries?"

Hi Bob,

First I'll assume you have the right shoes, they are not worn out and you have done a bit of running over the years.

Generally then if you have sensitivity, preventing Achilles injuries involves the following:

  • Stretch and strengthen calf muscles. Stretch your calf to the point at which you feel a noticeable pull but not pain. Don't bounce during a stretch. Calf-strengthening exercises can also help the muscle and tendon absorb more force and prevent injury.
  • Vary your exercises. Alternate high-impact sports, such as running, with low-impact sports, such as walking, biking or swimming. Avoid activities that place excessive stress on your Achilles tendons, such as hill running and jumping activities.
  • Choose running surfaces carefully. Avoid or limit running on hard or slippery surfaces. Dress properly for cold-weather training and wear well-fitting athletic shoes with proper cushioning in the heels.
  • Increase training intensity slowly. Achilles tendon injuries commonly occur after abruptly increasing training intensity. Increase the distance, duration and frequency of your training by no more than 10 percent each week.

But you specifically mention being a senior, which may mean you are having more difficulty than you might have had "before". As we age our tendons and ligaments do become less elastic and of course have little to no blood flow. You may have days where you seem particularly tight as well. This means that you need to be more in tune with your body and pay attention to any particular tightness. Don't push on those days. It also generally means you are going to need more rest after your hard days, since we don't recover as fast as we used to either. Sometimes tendons and ligaments can respond quite well to heat and ultrasound therapy, both before and after running... and I can't overemphasize proper warm up. And if you are having issues that are "new" it's also good to review what changed. For example, you may be a "neutral" runner who just bought a "stability" shoe....which could cause a slight gait or form change that irritates your tendon. And saying that, it never hurts to review and work on proper form, which will break down over time and with fatigue if not practiced.

Hope this helps
Coach Phil

Phil Orr

Running | Riverside, CA

June 14, 2016
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