Sore achilles tendon? Try running downhill, but backwards!

·1-min read
Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

Alongside “runner’s knee”, plantar fasciitis and ITB syndrome, achilles tendinopathy – a sore and inflamed achilles tendon – is one of the “big four” (or should that be “big sore”?) running injuries.

Traditional treatments for achilles tendinopathy have included rest, ice and lowering your heels off a step (known as the Alfredson protocol).

But a new study suggests a more active approach: running downhill – backwards. Runners who did so during a nine-week study “achieved their running-related functional goals”, say the study researchers. In other words, they saw their achilles pain diminish.

While this may sound like a fairly unlikely route to pain-free running, the principle is actually the same as the aforementioned Alfredson protocol: it eccentrically loads the achilles tendon with the aim of improving its ability to handles the forces of running. It just does so in a move active way.

So, if you’re one of those runners who can’t bear the thought of inactive recovery – aren’t we all? – then embrace a bit of backwards thinking. Just pick a smooth, gentle, traffic-free hill, otherwise new injuries may beckon…

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