My New Achilles Support System

May 12, 2011 § 4 Comments

Notice anything different?

Yep, that’s right, I got new shoes.

Not only a new pair of shoes, but a new brand (New Balance), a new model (860s)  and a new type (stability).

When I saw Dr. Paul Langer, the Running Podiatrist, several weeks ago for chronically tender Achilles tendons, he prescribed three things to try first:

    • Heel Drops.  I was already doing a variation of these–stand on a stair, hang your heels off the edge, and lift up onto the toes.  Then slowly lower your heels down below the top of the stair you are standing on.  Dr. Langer, however, recommended a variation where you still lift with both legs but then lower yourself back down with just one leg.  The problem I’m having with these is that I’m not coordinated enough to switch from having two feet on the stair to only one with any sense of rhythm.  So not only am I failing to do them the way he recommended, I have also stopped doing them the way I was originally doing them.  Shame!
    • Using a pair of Orange Superfeet Insoles.  Took some searching to find a dealer with the orange ones but I found a pair within a week and have worn them on every run since then.  Not sure that I’ve seen a change but seems like they should do something.  Might not be able to tell from the picture but the insoles that came with my shoes (the top two) are an 1/8th inch  of light-weight foam.  Not good for much.  The orange insoles have a hard plastic piece that runs through the back two-thirds.

  • Switch to Stability Shoes.  I’ve run in Nike Pegasus for over 15 years–there were a couple pairs of Nike Icarus, a pair of Nike Zoom Extras (Cross Country spikes), a pair of Nike Zoom II racing flats, and a brand-forgotten pair that lasted a week.  But for the most part, I’ve worn Pegasus.  And for the most part, when I start a new pair I feel good but after some miles my Achilles get sore again.  I figured that it wasn’t the shoes’ fault since the pain subsides when I start wearing a new pair.  Dr. Langer decided that I slightly over-pronate and shoes try shoes that provide more stability than the Pegasus–gulp!  It was a bit traumatic to buy something totally new but I’m giving them a try.  I tried on the Asics 2160 which also felt good but the New Balance 860s that I bought had a bit more room in the toe-box and has a less aggressive heel counter.

I waited until after running Lake Minnetonka before trying out the new shoes in case I have trouble in them.   But I’ve had them out of the box and been running in them for the last two weeks.  I won’t know for a while what I really think but I have not noticed any dramatic change.  The first thing I noticed is that the heel seems loose–my heel feels like is going to come out at times, especially at the beginning of a run.  Perhaps a different lacing pattern will help.

I’m still in the feeling-out stage with my new companions–there is a lot of excitement and anticipation that maybe these will “solve all my problems” as the shoe dude said although I remain skeptical.  But at least I’m slowly working my way through Dr. Langer’s recommendations and things aren’t getting worse.

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And the Doctor says…

March 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’ve had a bit of soreness and tenderness in both Achilles tendons for years.  As I ramp up the mileage, up goes the discomfort.  Nothing that has hampered my running too much–mostly general soreness in the morning.

But now, with access to more runner-friendly doctors, I decided I might at well talk to someone with actual medical training about them.

Yesterday, I spent an hour getting poked & prodded, X-rayed, and examined by a podiatrist.  Found out I have restricted range of motion in my big toes and my arches have some tendency to collapse (my interpretation of doctor-speak).

The first round of treatment is simple: doing toe-raises, an off-the-shelf insert and switching to a stability running shoe.

He recommended a different method to doing toe-raises than I am use to.  Traditionally, I have done both the raising and lowering with both legs at once.  He instructed me to use both legs to raise up and then switching to one leg to slowly lower myself down.

The inserts and stability shoes are designed to provide more support for my arches.

Physical therapy and/or cross-friction massage are the next steps if the problems persist after a couple weeks.

The X-rays showed some minor heel-spurs and, after paying closer attention this morning, I realized that my heels are a bit sore too.  So add that to my watch-list.

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