3 Ways to Prevent Achilles Tendinitis

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Many beginning triathletes struggle with overuse injuries; it just comes with the territory. Typically, the classic injury is the result of an increase in volume, intensity, too much hill training, and/or improper equipment set-up. Or, just doing too much too soon without 'easing' into whatever the activity may be.

A lot of first time triathletes struggle with injuries to the knees and shoulders, but an injury to the Achilles can really set you back.

Achilles Tendinitis is usually pain located in the posterior calf and may even be more localized to the tendon insertion point on the actual heel. Excessive pronation combined with tight calf muscles (which causes the heel to twist, tug and overstretch the Achilles tendon) often leads to tendinitis. This can be especially exacerbated with worn-out or ill-fitting running shoes.

More: When to Replace Running Shoes

With regards to cycling, tendinitis is often the result of poor cleat positioning, new cleats, bike cleats positioned too far forward and/or soft/flexible shoes. When cycling in these conditions, microtrauma will develop over time and irritation and inflammation is the result.

Some things one could do to prevent this overuse injury are: proper, extended warm-up, strengthening the calf muscles, and knowing when to stop rather than pushing through the pain.

Ultimately, you want to reduce swelling with a compression wrap, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory, or applying ice and elevation. Massage therapy will improve blood circulation and could aid in healing. If you do take ibuprofen, be careful that you don't just mask the pain and end up further injuring the tendon because of a false sense of healing.

More: Hope or Hype: Ibuprofen

Here are a few warm-up exercises you can do to supplement your workouts in an effort to prevent Achilles Tendinitis from keeping you from the road and/or off the bike:

Jump Rope

Jumping rope is a great cardiovascular warm-up and trains your feet to land properly. When your feet angle outward, the arch of your foot collapses and you put an off-axis force on your Achilles tendon. This repeated motion prepares the Achilles for further athletic movement.

More: 10-Minute Jump Rope Workout