Doctors see more Achilles tendonitis (AT) in winter than in summer, even though it’s likely that more people are out running, jumping, and even walking in balmier weather than in winter.
What’s up with that?
It’s because folks who are trying to keep in shape are likely, when they’re not toasting their toes by the fireside, to be running on a treadmill in the gym more than on the beach or a grassy path. Treadmills are harder on the Achilles tendon than outdoor running surfaces.
As your foot strikes the treadmill, the surface pulls back on the heel and draws the front of the foot onto the surface more quickly than is natural on a flat surface. This makes the treadmill running experience like running downhill and puts more of a strain on the Achilles tendon.
Where an Achilles tendon rupture often comes from a quick start or a burst of energy like a jump, tendonitis is the result of long-term damage, one small injury at a time. It can begin as slight soreness and tends to increase gradually. Pain can start in the heel or the calf as well as in the tendon itself, and it may not be a completely consistent pain. It might be sharp or dull, and it could feel different on different days. You can probably run through the pain for quite a while. That means that many sufferers don’t bother to see a doctor or even try out a home remedy until quite a bit of damage has been done.
There are some things you can do to avoid Achilles tendon injury on the treadmill:
- Don’t run on the treadmill in worn-out running shoes.
- Choose a speed and incline that feels comfortable or slightly challenging, not one that makes you feel like the belt is pulling you along.
- Stretch calves and heels before and after running on a treadmill.
If you experience pain, stop running. Choose another exercise till you can point and stretch your toes without pain. Use ice, rest, and ibuprofen if needed.