It's the largest tendon in your body, but that does not mean your Achilles tendon is impervious to injuries. Achilles tendon soreness, tearing, and separation leaves many runners sidelined each year. To ensure you don't suffer the same fate, make sure you're doing these things to protect your Achilles tendons.
Do plyometric drills.
When your Achilles tendon is inflexible, it is more likely to tear or become strained. In order to improve the flexibility of your tendons, it is important to add some pliometric drills to your running routine. These will challenge your Achilles tendons in new ways, increasing their range of motion in a way that simply running will not. Some simple plyometric drills to try include:
Run on softer surfaces.
The Achilles tendon absorbs a lot of the shock when your foot hits the ground. The harder the surface you're running on, the more stress it is put under. You can reduce your risk of Achilles injuries by running on softer surfaces, at least for some of your runs. Do your intervals on the track instead of the road. Head out on a trail run on the weekend instead of logging your long run on sidewalks. The less time you spend on pavement and concrete, the better.
Get fitted for shoes.
A lot of runners don't put the necessary time and care into finding the right shoes for their feet and for their stride. Just because a shoe feels comfortable on your foot does not mean that it encourages your foot to land properly. Shoes that allow the foot to roll too far inward are especially bad for your Achilles tendons. Visit a running shoe store and have one of their technicians analyze your stride and recommend shoes. This will help prevent all running injuries -- not just Achilles problems.
If your Achilles tendon starts feeling sore, take a few days off and ice the area. Continuing to push through Achilles pain will just make it worse. If the symptoms don't clear within a few days of resting and icing, see a podiatrist, like Dr. Lisa M. Schoene, for treatment.
Your feet might not seem like an important part of your personal health and wellness routine, but you would be hard-pressed to work out without them. Unfortunately, many people overlook their foot health, only to end up suffering from debilitating bunions and painful ingrown toenails. A few years ago, I ignored a cut on my foot which eventually turned into a full-blown infection. After a near-amputation, I realized that I needed to start focusing on my whole body. I know that if you can start focusing on your foot health, you can avoid troubling conditions so that you can enjoy your life.