Tips & Techniques

Understanding Achilles Tendonitis

Denise Smith 
April 1, 2024
Understanding Achilles Tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis can be a big pain and interrupt your training.  If this is something you experienced last year during your marathon training, then you know first hand how it can affect your performance.


Achilles tendonitis is irritation of the thick tendon behind your ankle.  Sometimes structures that are nearby, like your soleus muscle, may actually be the irritated tissue, but it is the same general area.  The cause of Achilles tendonitis can be associated with poor running technique, decreased ankle strength and stability, a problem higher up in your leg (maybe an old hip or low back injury), or even wearing the wrong shoes.  

We utilized video analysis to help determine which of the above issues is the actual driver of the problem.  The Achilles is designed to absorb force, not generate force.  Any of the above drivers will cause the Achilles to try to act in a way it is not designed, resulting in pain as you start running, mid-run, after the run, or during the entirety of your workout.  Stairs may be painful (especially going down the stairs) and stiffness/pain may be noted when first standing after laying or sitting for a long period of time.  


On video analysis, we look for things like where you are landing in relation to the rest of your body, how much ankle movement there is at landing, how your body is positioned (i.e. are you bending at the waist or leaning to one side), and most importantly, what your back leg is doing (do you EVER think about your back leg??).


With the proper running technique drills, strengthening/mobility/flexibility exercises, and some hands-on care, Achilles pain can be alleviated fairly quickly if you are willing to put in the time and effort to make some changes.  


Meet the Author
Denise Smith graduated from Marquette University in 2002 with a Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy and has been a certified running technique specialist since 2014. She is a consultant for multiple local middle and high schools and instructs courses in Kinesiology at McHenry County College. Denise also travels the country as part of the Pose Method education team with a lecture series on injury prevention and treatment along with the running technique certification course.
You were made to move!