physical therapy achilles runners

Achilles Tendonitis to a 3:33 Marathon in 2 Months

Patient Case: Annie

We met Annie at a local running store, Sole Sports where we do free injury screens for runners. At the time she was in the midst of training for her first marathon that was just two months away and she had begun to experience achilles tendonitis. This is typically pain in the back of your ankles. Her two main concerns were her marathon, and walking down the aisle to say “I do” one month later! Annie initially tried dry needling at another clinic and her achilles tendonitis got worse. The PT at the clinic told her to stop training for her marathon completely and that she wouldn’t be able to run the marathon.

When Annie came to DPT we were thrilled to help her continue her training while solving the main issue that had contributed to her Achilles tendonitis, tight calf musculature. Annie was missing about 20-25 degrees of dorsiflexion, which is the ability of your ankle to fold (as your foot moves upward, or towards your shin). This caused a high amount of load to be absorbed through her achilles tendon in a short period of time. Instead of being able to absorb all the shock gradually, the achilles was strained hard with each step. Within the first visit we were able to increase her dorsiflexion by 10-15 degrees and after the second visit she was able to progress back to her training program without pain. There was still work left to be done however as it can take up to 5 weeks to truly lengthen a muscle. We saw her intermittently up until her big race day and she was able to complete the race without a hint of her original injury.

Check out the pre and post video of the amount of ankle dorsiflexion she achieves before her heel raises off of the treadmill.

Annie had a great outcome because the underlying causes of her injury were addressed quickly after they started. Many injuries like this are preventable. If you’d like to understand how restrictions at the ankle can affect the hip, knee, and foot/ankle and what you can do to actively prevent it, check out your tight calves are costing you.