Achilles and calf hurt when walking but NOT when running.

I am 39 years old and run between 5-8km 3 times a week. Have done so since Oct 2015 when I started running. Never suffered an injury before, and for nearly 3 years, I never had more than 3 days rest between runs.

I suffered achilles in both feet last summer. Rested for a week and started running again, but only twice a week, sometimes leaving up to 6 days rest. 3 times a week causes discomfort again (but only when walking and not when running oddly enough). I have tried to manage this niggle for 6 months but it won't go away. After a few days rest, I always think it has finally gone.

However, the discomfort is NOT during running. I only get discomfort from walking down the street after 20 minutes or so. No discomfort at home 99% of the time. I can do stretches without problem. At worst, I get a dull ache in my achilles whilst I am running, no where near enough to make me think about stopping.

The symptons are that after walking for 10-20 minutes or so down the street, I will get cramp in the achilles just above the ankle bone in the same spot. It feels like it is behind the tendon and on the other side of where the skin in if that makes sense (so on the bone side). Is this a small tear? Also, at the top of the calf, I can get a bit of cramp there too. In fact, I don't think I have achilles tendonitis anymore as I don't have swelling and tenderness on the sides of the tendon (haven't done for months) but there is a slightly sore spot which cramps up when walking, but it fine when running.

I presume I just have never given my body a chance to repair itself. Is this a fair assessment.

I have now rested for nearly 2 weeks in a bid to try and get this niggle to go completely. I'm going to run a 5k at the end of this week to see how it all feels.

My questions are:

- Has anybody had an injury where you are fine to run, but have discomfort with walking?
- Have I done permanent damage to my achilles/tendon by continuing to run pretty much pain free for 6 months?
- Should I see a sports physio? I kind of feel a bit silly seeing them for a "niggle" rather than a serious muscle tear.

Thanks all (and merry xmas)


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  • Think my situation is in some ways relevant, hope you don't mind Andy !

    Hi, so here what happened. I am a 47 year old male, stocky build 15 Stone 5.9ft tall. I used to run twice a week about 4 miles, 2 years ago I went out one day without any kind of warm up and towards the end of my 4 miles felt a sharp pain in my right leg upper ankle below calf. I had to immediately stopped running and limped home. I did not run again for about 3 months, I was limping for about 6 days following the incident but gradually could walk as normal. About a month on I decided to do sprint runs of 3 minutes as apposed to longer runs thinking perhaps I am not built for longer running. This went Ok so stuck with this sprinting 3 minutes 3 times a week to keep my hand in. The start of this year I decided to go for a longer jog but was a bit shocked to feel the begginings of the same pain about 1 mile in so stopped quickly this time not feeling the full pain as I had the first time and limped home. Once again after leaving it a good month went back to the sprint runs and no problems. In between this I have been hiking 3 to 4 times in the lake district with no problems over the last two years.

    Just before Christmas I went into London city with my children and spent about 3 hours walking around in simple daps towards the end of this I felt minor pains and stiffness in the same area which kind of shocked me a bit. I was kind of sweating I might get the same intense pain then loose use of my leg again while out with my family and the fact this injury is making its way into my normal lifestyle. It held out although I was limping a bit out of fear for putting weight on it. After few days rest did 3 minute sprint runs every other day x 3 and ok. I had to go to the doctors with my daughter and did the walk in my no supportive daps only 0.5 mile from my house but in that short walk again felt stiffness and minor pain in the area again so started to limp a bit on the way home and again was a bit worried how this is creeping up on me. I have an appointment with the hospital via GP in one week but was a bit concerned so booked to see my local well reviewed Physio. He examined the leg testing I could raise my ankle off the floor on one leg and devised a routing of the following....

    Gastrocnemius stretch hold 15-30 secs x 3-4
    Knee to wall - soles stretch 15-30 secs
    Calf raises - gastrocnemius 3 x 10-15 reps
    Soleus calf raises knee bent 45 degrees 2 x 10-15 reps

    all twice daily.

    I carried out 3 days of these but using both legs at once for the last two as my leg felt vulnerable. Even so I feel stiffness and minor pain in my leg after 3 days and so have stopped the exercises as I am worried about causing further damage. I contacted the Physio who suggested less reps but I am nervous about doing anything at all at the moment as I can't help thinking I will push it too hard and cause more damage. So I am now feeling lost as to where I am. He has assured me I won't cause further damage but reading up about tendon injuries like this there is lots of advice to rest it outright. I have no bother in giving up running but I have two young children and would like to carry on doing 10 mile hikes now and again and family walks.

    Any info would be greatly appreciated !


  • Hi Andy

    Bearing in mind I haven't seen you run or walk but I would guess that when you walk you 'push' more through your calves, whereas you 'push' more through the quads and upper legs when you run. Calves are an endurance muscle, so they will benefit from lots and lots of reps, which running and walking typically provide.

    To be on the safe side it might be worth seeing a physio about the ankles, to ensure that there isn't a recurrence of any issues, or bone dislocation. After that I would suggest weighted calf raises to help rehab the muscles.

    Hope that helps!
  • Hopefully this thread isn't too old to reply to. I've struggled with Achilles problems for a long time. I'd given up hope of running at the same level as before but I've made as much progress over the last year as I could hope for and pretty much back to normal.

    I think the reason it has gone on so long (over 10 years) is that I was in a mind set where I'd rest it then try again with some new approach. Then get a recurrence and start the cycle again.

    The advice that helped me was that tendons like load. Too little load and they atrophy. Too much load and they get damaged. But get the load right and they get stronger. Obviously if you actually have an acute injury then you rest it. The trick is knowing the difference and when you have a chronic injury to the Achilles. If you had a sudden pain and then onset of trouble you get medical advice. If you are sure it isn't a sudden injury and you are trying to manage troublesome Achilles then consider not falling into the rest trap.

    Along with that, when I tried to run again, I only ran what I considered a reasonable run. So if I couldn't run 4 or 5 miles I considered the tendon not right and rested it again. My idea of progression was if I could do that once a week then I'd try twice. Then more often etc. That was part of the trap.

    I better progression is to think what can I run consistently. Meaning 5 or 6 times a week, In desperation I was doing 5 or 10 minutes runs, feeling silly, but doing it that often. After some weeks of doing this my confidence grew and I did a bit more. Now I can do the 4 or 5 mile any time I like and I'm up to 12 miles on the long run. Last year that was unthinkable but the little and often approach seems to of worked.

    Specifically - Andy - Do see the Physio. They would much rather help you address a problem early than wait until it is more serious. Part of what helped me was dealing with any mechanical problem I had. One seemed unrelated to the Achilles and only a niggle. But a physio really helped and I just feel stronger as a result.

    Sam - figure out what you can do. If it's less reps or cutting out one of the exercises that's fine but still do something. You always have the option of a second opinion. But don't do nothing. Nothing leads to weakening and recurring injuries. Be proactive and do what you can try. Find what you can do regularly, however little.

    Good luck.
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