Having suffered from Achilles tendinitis (at the insertion point) myself, I thought it would be useful to share with other runners one of the important elements of my recovery: running shoes. Please note that I am not a doctor or a health professional, although I try to reference as many research articles as possible to support my claims.
Achilles tendonitis is a very tough injury, especially one that affects the insertion point. Unlike the classic version of Achilles tendonitis, the one at the insertion point is not as receptive to eccentric load exercises. Even more frustrating: rest alone does not help with healing in general.
In addition, it is common for Achilles tendinitis at the insertion site to be accompanied by a painful tendon bump (Haglund syndrome) that can worsen when wearing running shoes with a stiff or tight heel.
Is it reasonable to continue running with Achilles tendinitis?
It may seem irresponsible to run with an injury like Achilles tendinitis but, as mentioned above, rest alone often doesn’t help. The Achilles tendon is poorly supplied with bloodand therefore keeping it active could promote healing. In this2007 study, Silbernagel et al. found “no significant negative effects of engaging in activities that strain the Achilles tendon, such as running or jumping, by following a pain control system during healing.” In this study, runners were allowed to continue their sports practice provided that the pain did not exceed a level of 5 on a pain scale of 10.
In other words, it is important to listen to your body but a reasonable practice of running seems potentially possible during the healing period of Achilles tendinitis.
What are the best running shoes for Achilles tendinitis?
After carefully reading the stories of other runners also suffering from Achilles tendinitis at the insertion point, I noticed that many of them recommended Nike Free 5.0. So I tried them and thanks to their flexible and loose heel, I was able to continue running while my Achilles tendon healed.
However, the Nike Free 5.0 was withdrawn from circulation by Nike and replaced by the Nike Free RN Flyknit. Although the heel of these is also flexible, it is rather tight and was painful in my case.
Cutting the heel of a running shoe
What? Yes, you read that right. There are no anti-tendonitis running shoes. Most models, even those with a flexible heel, are likely to be painful and aggravate the injury in case of Achilles tendinitis at the insertion site.
The best solution is therefore to cut the heel of the shoe.
How do you do it?
A simple cut with scissors or a cutter should be enough. You simply need to identify the precise place where the heel of the shoe irritates the Achilles tendon.
Below you can see the example of myNike Air Zoom Pegasus32:
Do you have any tips for getting rid of Achilles tendinitis? Share them in the comments section below.