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Managing the Achilles

Today's flat even road run passing through Avoca Beach
took the pressure off my painful Achilles tendon injury.

For a year now, whenever I have been able to run consistently for a few weeks, my right Achilles tendon has become painful.  Achilles injuries have been the bane of my running life.  I guess there were deficiencies in my genetic design and an addiction to distance running didn't help.

The only long-term relief I have experienced came from major surgeries in which the tendon was cleaned up, the bursa removed, a heel spur removed and a corner of my heel bone cut off.  This was done to my left heel in my thirties and my right heel in my fifties and on both occasions it took a long time to recover.  Two earlier, less radical, surgeries on the left heel only gave relief for a couple of years each time.

Today's run included this flat section
approaching McMasters Beach.

Of course, surgery is the last resort, especially if it's going to stop you running for more than a year.  To avoid surgery, I have tried just about every possible treatment  - ice packs, massage, cortisone injections, post-run cold running water, anti-inflammatories, stretching, orthotics, heel raises, shoe heel cut-outs, running on flat surfaces, avoiding hills, doughnut bandages, alternating shoes - apart from retirement from long distance running.  My conclusion is that none of these non-surgical treatments provides a permanent solution.

At best, they are delaying actions, and that's what I feel I have been doing with my current right Achilles problem.  For a while the Hoka shoes seemed to place less strain on the Achilles (but more strain on my bad right knee).  Now, even they don't seem to provide relief.  My heel became very sore on Monday's long trail run wearing the Hokas.  For today's 15km run, I changed back to my Nike shoes and stayed on the road.  The heel was sore but didn't get worse, although I was running slowly.

I really don't want to have more surgery, so I guess I'll keep trying most things that provide temporary relief, short of cortisone or anti-inflammatories.  They just mask the problem while you do more damage.