Morning achilles stiffness

Hi, I've already postedthis thread with full background of an earlier injury.

Four months later, this is starting to return to a level where I can tentatively start to run again (very low distances on a treadmill,  only slowly for the time being, plus specific gym exercises.)

 But I note it's still sore and stiff in the morning.   How long does this phase last?

I massage the tendon when I'm watching tv - it's slightly sore to the touch only as morning stiffness disappears about 30 mns ater I get up.

 Any other recoverers out there ? Can you describe your account of how long it took to get to zero morning or after-exercise soreness?

 Many thanks.



  • Should have added that one reason for asking is I love(d) park runs, which take place in the morning.  My gameplan is to be able to run one again by mid-February.  But parkruns take place relatively early, at at time when the tendon might still be sore...

    under these circumstances, run or not run?

     It's worth noting that I have continued to do a high volume of exercise, but on a bike instead of running - 3 sessions of 2 to 2.5 hours per week at a variety of intensities from 4 out of 10 to 10 out of 10.

  • I'd suggest that the morning stiffness and slight soreness will disappear when the achillies is fully healed. It's like saying "how long is a piece of string"? Until then, with your history I'd be very wary. The remaining symptoms you are showing are classic dodgy achillies symptoms. It wouldn't take much to put you back to square one as you probably know. A 5K in Feb? It wouldn't be my idea of a "comeback" event after achillies problems as 5k's can be manic!! The problem isn't the run - you can run painfree - it's after the run you suddenly realise you've done too much. The morning symptoms are telling you you are not fully healed - listen to your body and take it easy. If you are hoping to "race" your 5k in Feb will you be tempted to push the training when you are probably not ready to push things? Patience QFS!
  • Hi Tigerlily,  thanks for the advice. Yes, I'm fortunately aware that I can mess the whole thing up in a stroke of impatience... :- (

    I hadn't thought of the fact that you can run painfree and then experience symptoms afterwards. This is indeed a treacherous situation!  Presumably it's the same with achilles-specific activities in the gym?

    I'll make a mental note to not ramp up the training too much all at once - perhaps doing a very short treadmill session one day per week - increasing by a few per cent per session - and then after a complete rest, doing achilles-specific rehabilitiation exercises.

    This is one of the worst injuries I have ever had (second only to a large rupture of an ischial tuberosity) and I want to completely knock it on the head before racing again!

    Have you experienced this, Tigerlily?  What happened in the end?

  • Hi QuestfurSpeed

    have you tried using a poultice of nettle tea, first thing in the morning? Make the tea using leaves or bags (3 x normal strength)

    Soak flannel in tea, and tie to leg by wrapping round leg and holding in place with sock

    Leave for 30 mins while resting or moving round house.

    The nettles contain a chemical which can reduce inflammation and aid paid control (hence its use in childbirth in the olden days.)

    Good luck!

  • QFS - I have experienced achillies tendonitus but not as bad as yours. I have had the morning stiffness/pain you describe then when I ran it was painful at first but then the pain would wear off after half a mile or so. I was training for VLM in 2008 and 6 weeks from the event I had to stop running completely for 3 weeks. I did not run at all until there was no pain in the morning. I had ultrasound at the physio and sports massage to my calves. No walking round in bare feet, no stretching whilst pain was still present. I cycled instead and pool-ran. It resolved itself and did not affect my marathon performance. I think yours is obviously getting better but don't knock it back. Tendons when badly injured take a long time. Massage is good but not stretching until it's pain free.
  • Tigerlily, ah, glad yours healed up in the end - sounds you had to be quite restrained for a bit, too. How did you manage in the VLM with that three week break? It must have been very frustrating but I'm glad the symptoms didn't return during the race.

    I am now also massaging my calves with a rolling pin - seems to do some good. The elephant in the room is that age is a real factor here and I am no longer 25, to put it mildly, much as I might persuade myself otherwise.
  • LOL QFS - elephant in the room indeed! I'm pretty ancient myself image Rolling pin is a great idea - I use a foam roller. I also got a "Stick" for Christmas - google "the stick" as the linky thing isn't working - I think it was my children's testament to my age!! LOL image image

    The marathon, even with a 3 week break over what should have been peak mileage training went very well. But then I'm used to distance and my achillies only ever was at the stage yours is at now.
  • Hey Tigerlily, good to hear that your VLM didn't suffer too badly even with the break. It's amazing what a good pyramid of mileage can do, eh?

    I'll investigate foam roller - probably more to prevent ITB woes (not that I have any) - good tip, that. And I'll google 'the stick', too.

    Did you get a place in the VLM this year? I'm clearly not even thinking about distance racing this year. If I'm fit to run a fast 5K by the autumn, I'll be satisfied, even though this is a considerable downgrade of my previous expectations!!!
  • No NFS, I haven't run a road marathon since 2008 - I am a fell runner, I ran London twice (2005 & 2008) just because it was LONDON but I'm an off roader doing 90% of my running on the fells. It was probably the switch from off road to on road which contributed to my achillies problems.... maybe... I'd never had achillies problems before or since!  And TBH it wasn't that bad. I'm sure you will recover fully from yours!
  • Hi,

    As a fellow achilles sufferer, I have been doing quite a lot of walking, increasing the pace as the discomfort in the tendon eases.  This doesn't seem to cause adverse effects although any (gentle) attempt at running has inevitably had me hobbling about the house in the mornings and having to hang onto the handrail going downstairs.

    It's driving me nuts not being able to run!

  • hi bikbok, sounds like you are in a worse position than I am (now)- sorry to hear that, as I know how frustrataing this stage is. I've been able to walk limp-free and fast for a few weeks now and had no repercussions from my (one so far) treadmill session.

    if you still need to use the handrail, your tendon sounds like it could do with a bit more tlc and complete rest before you try to run again.

    Can you cycle? I never had to stop cycling, even quite demanding sessions, when the tendon was at its most painful while I was walking.

    Take it easy and don't try to do too much too soon.

  • Thanks for the sympathy! 

    The handrail is not required most of the time, but it is rather tender, so I guess I'd best take your advice and forget about running for the time being.  I do like cycling, but it's limited to weekends only at the mo, due to short days.  The best exercise seems to be the swimming pool, which is always a good all-round workout,  strengthening  and loosening up shoulders at the same time. 

    I haven't taken it to the physio.  Do you reckon it's worth it?

  • I have had an achilles injury for 6 months and visited a physio every week sometimes twice in that whole time, very expensive, It is getting better and I have been told by the physio to start running again even although I can still feel slight pain, funny thing is that it now feels like I have a burning feeling up the side of my leg (not painful) and a twinge in my hamstring (maybe I should visit a vet I am falling apart lol) I feel this is connected can anyone give me advise, on another the down side to injury in the past 6 month I have put more than a stone in weight on Ahhhhhh
  • I have to say if you have visited a physio every week for six months and they have not picked up the fact that it is connected to a higher issue then I would very much reccommend you visiting another physio
    In my opinion which is based on experience and not qualifications, there is quite usually a tightness in calfs/hips/back which contribute to achilles pain if it is not an overuse injury

    It does indeed take time and patience to heal or to learn to manage it but I would expect a physio to treat or search for the cause and not just treat the symptom
  • Totally agree with the above on the physio issue!
  • Next week I'm going for the physio!  However, I'm also going to relax a bit about not running and just enjoy my other exercise, especially the swimming. Thanks for helpful comments.
  • Hi,

     I'm new to all of this, both forums and running image but from what has been said there seems to be a lot of good advice out there. 

    I started running back in July but pulled my achilles in October and haven't ran since.  It doesn't hurt in the mornings, but sometimes when I'm rushing to work I feel it twinge.  Everytime I think of getting back to running I'm afraid I'll do more damage.

    Going to try doing a little and if hurts stop, hopefully will be pounding the streets again soon and may even get above the 3 miles I'd got up to.

  • Take it easy, Angela, but go for it too!  Of course you'll be back soon and clocking up the miles.  Recover well and enjoy your running.
  • Thanks bikbok, looking forward to getting the running shoes back on, might even try a little run tomorrow if NYE doesn't take over me first image

  • I'm putting the shoes on right now - to go for my brisk walk.  It's a cool, breezy but bright morning here in sunny Valencia (Spain) and not to be missed.  Besides, got to earn the NYE binge - here it involves some very serious eating, as well as partying till dawn.  Enjoy yours.
  • Try and get a physio to get to the route of the problem.mine was weak glute muscles on the right hand i could spend time working on these whilst recovering.I was out of running for 4 months and then just slowly walked / ran for a while.....I didn't do any fast running for several months.....I have luckily not had any reoccurrence and have done lots of endurance events as well as fast short races since....
    I had an NHS physio so not always needed to spend lots of money.

    Good luck
  • seren nos, thanks - I could have done with some physio advice, but for various reasons, it's not an option for me now. But I'm taking it very easy and making small incremental improvements.

    Today I ran 2 km on the treadmill in the afternoon, at around my 5 mile pace.

    I will add just a kiometre per session with a 5 days' rest in between for these come-back sessions, and concentrate on returning to good form.

    One good thing is that my CV fitness is great from cycling up to 8 hours a week.
  • IMO adding a k per day is too much .... 5 days rest inbetween should not be required and again IMO running every other day is a better option, if you can run the same distance every other day for 10 days then you can increase by half a mile or so, adding too much too soon will see you back to square one again
    keep it all low level, low distance and low intensity 

    Slowly slowly catchee monkey
  • M...eldy, thanks a lot - your advice makes a lot of sense. I'll try as you suggest, for the time being running just 2 k every other day for ten days at no faster than my last time, even though that feels very slow.

    Then I'll add another k and see how that goes.

    You're right, this is a long game and easily overturned by impatience.
    In the background, I'm also doing eccentric calf raises/stretches (can't remember the correct term but you know the ones I mean?)

  • I do and you cant do enough of them   image

    Have had many cnoversations over the years and have developed my own opinions on why this happens, personally I think a lot of people suffer at the end of the summer as they spend a whole season in flip flops and other such shoes with little or no support and an excess of movement in the shoe/sole, these shoes are also a lot flatter than usual shoes so you are stretching the plantar and the achilles and then come the winter you up the running and then gradually the problems start occurring!

    Another little theory of achilles stiffness in the mornings is heavy bedclothes, I tried to get into the habit of sleeping on my side and not flat on my back as the weight of the bedclothes were forcing my foot down and foreshortening the achilles overnight and making the problem potentially even worse ... by changing the sleeping habits (without a night splint) I think this helps

    I also do a flexion test on my ankles using a predetermined point and a wall and if I dont reach that point then I dont run (ok some times I might risk it) as it heightens the risk of problems ...

    Injuries teach you a lot about your body  image
  • M....eldy, what you say in your first paragraph there is very interesting - thanks again. With my injury, I first noticed a tweak when I was playing frisbee on a sandy beach with bare feet in July, a month before the full injury that stopped me running altogether.

    At the time, I was also training in neutral shoes (no difference in height between heel and the rest of sole), but switched to a supportive shoe with orthotics a week or so before my half marathon.

    In retrospect, I should have paid attention to the beach tweak, as that's where the trouble started. Changing shoe types just made it a hundred times worse.
  • QFS - Out of interest - why did you change shoe type? It's pretty radical to go from neutral to supportive with orthotics - what was wrong that made you do that?
  • Tigerlily, well, it's an odd one, I'll admit it, and not surprised you're asking! When I started running last year, the first shoes I bought were neutrals. I got on just fine with them but as I was doing substantial mileage heading for my half marathon, they were completely worn out by mid-July (I'd started in Feb). The strongest area of wear was in at the front of the sole, showing that I was a forefoot striker.

    I then remembered that I'd been prescribed orthoses for everyday use (including walking) by a podiatrist, 5 years earlier. That was following a fracture of the sub-talar joint in my R foot. I hadn't complied with the advice as I couldn't afford to buy multiple sets of the extremely expensive orthotics (£115 a pair) for various pairs of shoes and it was too much hassle to keep moving one pair around.

    So actually, at the point of changing my running shoes, nothing was yet radically wrong. I'd just felt that very minor tweak on the beach playing frisbee, but I could easily have ordered the same neutral running shoes over again.

    Went back to the gym again today and managed to limit my activity to a 2 k run plus some romanian deadlifts. Very pleased that I had the self-discipline not to add another kilometre yet.

    TL, have you now completely recovered from any trace of trouble? What's your current training goal?
  • Yes NFS as far as the achilles problems go! Mine was really just a twinge compared to your problem.

    Interestingly, my problems when I finally got to sort it out was due to weakness in the core and glutes. It took a long time to correctly diagnose what was wrong with me. I had numerous injuries from the achilles problem at the minor end of the scale to a stress fracture of the fibula before I realised (with the help and support of an extremely good physio) that my problem was down to over pronation caused by weak glutes/core. I too had been fitted with orthotics by a podiatrist but that just fixed the outcome of the problem and they made me worse anyway - I ditched them after trying with them for 5 months. It took 6 months of hard work in the gym and undertaking Pilates to sort me out. Once my glutes and core were working properly I no longer seriously over pronated and everything just felt and worked much smoother. Without a strong base you cannot run to your potential. 2011 was beset by injury and rehabilitation for me - the lowest mileage year I have ever had and only took part in 2 events at the start of the year.

    My goal for now is to aim for the Coniston 14 in April and to continue to run pain/injury free! I'm primarily a fell runner so I have a couple of big events later in the year I'd like to do depending on whether I make the start line at Coniston. Fingers crossed!
  • Hi Tiger Lily, very interesting with your comments on core and glutes there.  I kind of came to a similar conclusion after my injury (that's to say, I thought 'what can I improve even when I'm not running?) and have learned a few glute and core (and hamstring) strengthening exercises of which I am doing progressively more advanced versions.

    The simple double legged squat is staying in my repertoire, as are single legged squats and various versions that can be done in the gym. (Don't normally use gym but am doing so for rehab).

    I WISH I could be near some hills/ fells!  I would love to run on muddy, stony paths, through winter bogs and whatever nature could throw at me.  I am a huge fan of all weather conditions.  Just writing this is making me day-dream about moving somewhere with rougher running available!

    Hey, good luck with training for the Coniston!  Also, I hope you stay injury-free in 2012 - sounds like you've got a level-headed approach and are going into the year with a much more resilient running body.

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