I was jovially chatting with the jump coach at Cuesta Junior College a couple months back, telling how it has been 18 years since I last strapped on my spikes. He smiled and just said, watch out for you Achilles. I had already been running and bounding for a month or so without any problem, but Murphy’s law struck and not a week later did my Achilles start to ache (I still blame that coach…thanks a lot!).
Quickly, I hit the web and found that ruptured Achilles is an extremely common injury for guys over 40 doing ballistic sports. So, being the good boy that I am, I started icing after workouts and heat during the day, but that wasn’t making much progress. I read about wearing a splint to bed, but I wasn’t ready to do that. Instead, I just made sure that upon waking I slowly made circles with my ankles trying to loosen up my calf prior to putting my whole body weight down. This did seem to help a bit.
Then, a week ago, I was at an orthopedic surgeon (my wife is getting rotator cuff surgery) and asked him if he treated Achilles issues. Without hesitation he said “get a Strassburg Sock”. Okay, that was all the nudging I needed.
Amazingly, my Achilles felt better the first day I wore it, and has been feeling better ever since. The Strassburg sock is awesome. However, it’s not perfect. The sock is really for Plater Faciatis, which means that it’s designed to pull on your toes at night, which isn’t necessary for your Achilles. This is actually quite uncomfortable…and I’ve woken up and torn it off a couple times. The doctor said I didn’t need it tight, so just loosen it up. But that only partly helped. I ended up pulling an insole from an old shoe, tapping some tongue depressors to it to keep in stiff, and sliding that inside the sock. This keeps my ankle flexed all night (still keeping it lose), without the toe tugging that would wake me.
The sock didn’t heal me completely. I can still feel pain when I pinch the tendon compared to my other foot. But I now don’t feel it walking around in the morning or even warming up.
Now, it’s time to strengthen it so I don’t need the sock. Jimson Lee has a great series on his blog (SpeedEndurance.com) about dealing with Achilles pain. See his 5 posts here (I especially like the exercises in part 3):