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Hi - this thread is about transferring to barefoot running (well, actually minimalist shoes) to help an achilles / ankle problem longer term - and whether that's sensible or not!
There's a lot of info to take in here so please bear with me. Hopefully some of the info i'm giving (from my physios) might help some people out there with the same problem too.
I started running c.2yrs ago and did my 2nd half marathon last September. I noticed soreness in my achilles in the mornings & at the start of runs after running the half (maybe came on during the build-up training, I can't remember). I went to a physio and they told me to stop running, which I did. She felt the problem was an ankle sprain the previous year contributed to a lack of dorsiflexion (stiff ankle joint) as I couldnt get my knee to the wall easily even with my toes against it; but also stiff calf muscles.
I stopped running & it improved but I have built up slowly to 15-20miles per week and i'm back where I started with the stiff achilles in the mornings & at the start of runs.
Back to a new physio who says the same as the first. I have decided to cut down to <10miles per week (3x3mile runs) but feel very frustrated by that. I have to do lots of calf lowers, calf raises (raise on strong side, lower on weak side), and ankle joint stretches for improving dorsiflexion.
Having reads lots about achilles & ankle joint movement on the Net and in this forum.. I decided some of the issues might be coming from the way I run & the shoes I run in. I wear Nike Structure for mild/moderation over-pronation. So I just had gait analysis at a running shop & it seems I don't heel strike at all, i'm a forefoot runner. I am also way over-striding. I haven't had a chance to update my physio since as she's away - so anyone know if this could cause the problems?
So i'm thinking of switching to minimalist trainers (sort of barefoot running but not quite) - in fact I already bought some Merrels. This will suit the way I run anyway, and allow my ankle to move more naturally where as my current trainers allow it to be lazy.
This is great for my running gait and my ankle (hopefully) but what about my achilles?
I am worried it will make it worse! I don't want to risk making my achilles worse as I know that's the only reason the physio is telling me to limit my running.
I know I have to build up slowly with these shoes - I did 3mins (literally) on the treadmill in them today.
Any advice would be much appreciated. Otherwise, I hope some of my info helps someone out there.