View Full Version : Achilles tendon info wanted

05-13-2005, 14:46
Hi from Foodbag out on the Trail on a mega-section hike, enjoying a zero in Daleville.

I need some honest advice about strained Achilles tendons. I've been hiking 10 days at a moderate pace of 8 - 10 miles a day generally, until I get my trail legs under me. In spite of being conservative it seems that I have strained my right Achilles tendon.

I can walk on it OK once I stretch in the morning but the area is definitely swollen as compared to the left tendon area which is enjoying "normalcy". Internet research seems to indicate that I shouldn't be walking on it :(

Anyone care to relate how they got through this? I really don't want to take a break only 10 days into the game but I'm a realist. I might add that I'm 47.


05-13-2005, 15:52
Greetings from a fellow Achilles tendonitis sufferer! :(

Yep, the only way to get better is to give it a rest. At our age, that rest could take you more than a month and even involve infrared heat and painful massage to eliminate the pain. After that, there are a number of ankle strengthening exercises I can tell you about that should keep this from happening again.

So what if you don't take a break and keep walking? Well, the worst that can happen is pretty bad: a torn or even separated Achilles which could bother you for the rest of your life and really put a crimp in your hiking career. It's likely that it's really tender in the morning but the pain goes away as you warm up and get the blood flowing. If the pain is tolerable, doesn't increase, and you avoid sharp movements, then you might be able to go on for awhile. Ibuprofen will dull the pain and reduce the swelling, but it's just masking the issue.

If you're only doing 10 mile days, then take a few breaks and soak that foot in a cold stream. Just be careful starting back up.

I'll bet that you don't walk with much of a pigeon-toed gait, like me. I now make it a point to splay my toes out when I start going up a hill. Otherwise you put a lot of pressure and overstretch the Achilles.

05-13-2005, 16:43
another thing that seemed to help me was to add a heel wedge to the boots - raising the heel up about .25 inch helped me

05-13-2005, 17:00
I had a similar problem on my thru-hike last year. Early on, my left achilles started bothering me, to the point that I could only hike taking painkillers. It got pretty swollen and I took a zero at one point to see if it helped, but it was virtually useless. I then noticed that when I was walking around barefoot in camp it didn't bother me, so I figured my boots may have something to do with the problem. I hiked for days on painkillers and when I got to Franklin, NC I went to the outfitter and tried every pair of hiking shoes they had until I found a pair of Merrells that didn't hurt my achilles. After that, I was able to hike with no pain killers. I took 2 days off in Fontana Dam to see if the swelling would go down. I kept icing it during those 2 days. When I left it was still pretty swollen. But I never looked back. I was doing 20 mile days and wasn't too bothered, and after maybe another 1 1/2 week the swelling finally went down.

So that was my experience. I was 26 and in pretty good shape. Don't know if this will be of use, but you can always start checking if your boots aren't to blame for the pain you're feeling. I think I hiked a good 6-7 days on painkillers before reaching Franklin.

05-13-2005, 18:00
I second check the boots. I have dinged a hoof on the back and on the front in different boots. The granite here eats footwear and I have often taken second best for fit. Takes me a rest, ice water in 5 gallon bucket, and more rest. Good luck.

05-13-2005, 18:42
Here is a product that I've used that might take some of the stress of the Achilles: https://secure.cho-pat.com/products/product.php?product_type=7

I'm not sure how it would fit in the boot, but in dress shoes it was fine. The heel wedge provides similar relief, but they could be used together.

05-13-2005, 18:43
Thank you everyone. I have been walking in New Balance running shoes with custom Superfeet insoles, which were intended to counteract flat feet. I think I started getting the Achilles problem after a particularly steep stretch outside of Sinking Creek Valley. It was steep uphill, without the usual switchbacks. Before that section I wasn't having any problems.

Anyway, I'm going off-trail until everything gets back to normal, rather than risk tearing the tendon altogether. Some things are just not worth it. I was hoping to finish up the 1,500 miles I had left all in one fell swoop so it looks like I will have to revise my plans, as well as my choice of shoes.