Let me preface this by saying that my Achilles tendon tear was a small tear. It created a small bump in the tendon, no more than a quarter inch. If it was a more serious tear, or a full rupture, I would need significantly more time for full recovery.
I am signed up to run my first Marathon on May 1. I've been training all winter.
With two weeks to go, I've completed several long runs (22-mile and 23-mile), ran the BAA 5K to test my speed (at 18:05), and ran a 10-mile tempo at Marathon pace with a friend last Sunday. That's when it happened. I actually didn't feel it much during the run. It was after the run that I could not even walk without shearing pain.
Partially in denial, I designed the most optimal course of action to heal this injury with only two weeks before the Marathon. Here's what I did since last Sunday.
I've slept over 50 hours in the last week, making sure I get a minimum of 7 hours per night. Our tissues build and regenerate while we sleep only.
2. Strengthen and organize the Achilles tendon fibers.
The magic exercise for the Achilles tendon is the Eccentric Heal Drop. (Look it up on Youtube on how to actually do it.)
I did 3 sets of 20 reps on the injured side. It was excruciatingly painful only the first two nights. After that, I could just feel a slight tugging sensation.
3. Stabilize the healing fibers.
I used Kinesio Tape every day to keep the healing tissues intact and prevent them from stretching and re-tearing during the day.
It seems to me that a common Achilles tendon tear takes a long time to heal due to the constant re-tearing of these tissues in our every day movements. I decided to immobilize it with the K tape to prevent this re-tearing.
I used the sauna for 30 minutes every day since the injury to encourage circulation. Blood is the healing agent. It brings the healing supplies to the tissues. Typically, the Achilles tendon does not get enough blood flow. I tried to increase it with the sauna heat.
5. Things I didn't do:
These are typical treatments for the Achilles tendon, but I avoided them:
a. Massage or any deep manipulation of the injury like the Graston technique;
The reason: I didn't want to aggravate the tendon in any way that could prolong healing. My focus is to tighten the torn fibers as fast as possible: no stretching, no massage, no ice.
My Daily Step-by-Step Routine to Speed-Heal the Achilles Tendon
Sauna, 30 min, followed by Kinesio Tape for the rest of the day
Aqua Running in the pool, 30-40min.
Eccentric Heel Drops, 3 x 20 (add weighted backpack when comfortable) -- followed by Arnica cream on the injury -- followed by Sleep
One Week Later
It's been exactly one week. I have one more week before the Marathon.
After three days of this routine, the pain disappeared and was replaced by a dull sensation of tension.
After four days, only a faint sensation in the tendon remained.
After five days, I had zero discomfort when walking or standing on my toes.
Yesterday, I seriously considered going out for a run, but I didn't.
This morning, I went for a walk, and tried jogging for short periods of time.
I have not run yet. I will wait for a few more days. But I am hopeful. I guess the real test will be the Marathon.
Two Weeks Later - Marathon Day
Can one run a whole marathon without any running for two weeks? That was the question in my mind as I made my way to the start line yesterday morning. I must say, my running muscles felt great, fully recovered.
The Achilles injury appeared to be healed. No pain walking, jumping, or squeezing the tendon. But I still had not run.
To run or not to run, I was deciding all week. The day before I decided to run the race. If I don't run it, I thought, I would always wonder What If I did? ... I figured, I'd bring my phone with me, and if I get hurt, I'd stop and call for help, but at least I'd have tried.
I also decided to skip my usual 2-mile easy jogging as the warm-up, and start slowly and cautiously. The first 5 miles were great. I barely felt a sensation, enjoying the energy of the people, the music bands along the course, and settled into a comfortable pace.
Then, the rain started to pour. And as if on cue, I could feel my Achilles tendon throbbing. I shortened my stride, but it didn't matter. Every mile, it got worse. At mile 8, my foot lost its bounce - I could feel that the Achilles tendon was not working as a spring anymore. I stopped after ten miles and hobbled to a nearby cafe to call my family. Good thing I brought that cell phone.
Somehow, even though I got injured, I felt good about the decision to run. Now it's recovery time.
With all the tools available, I am definitely planning to:
by Slava Kolpakov