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  1. #1
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    achilles tendon is killing me. help.

    i am in the middle of a short tour from portland to eugene. two days, 130 miles or so. i can make it obviously, but i would still like to know whats going on. so late afternoon yesterday, my achilles tendon on my right leg right around my ankle area just started hurting really badly. hurt pedaling, hurt walking, etc. i have been popping lots of tylenol, to no avail. anybody have any idea of what could be causing this? i have toured a lot in the past, but this has never happened to me before. thanks bf.

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    I had an achilles problem that I attributed to tight calves, and my family doc agreed, but physical therapist found that not to be the case.

    For me hamstring and eccentric (but not regular) calf-stretching (fig 28.9), and paying attention to how I sat, keep my feet flat on the ground, not mess around with them. And some workarounds for my flat feet too. And icing.

    For you, it could be different I don't know. Good luck, it's no fun, that's for sure. I did manage to keep bike-commuting during the months it took me to calm my achilles down. Focus on spinning low gear. Absolutely no running.

  3. #3
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Try lowering your saddle a bit ... and wrap the ankle.

    There is a special wrapping technique for the achilles tendon - you might be able to find diagrams on the internet or get a Dr to show you how to do it, but basically you make a brace of tape that runs from the middle/bottom of your foot (arch area) up to about mid-calf, then wrap a band of tape at the top of your achilles tendon (mid-calf), another around the middle of your foot. These bands hold the brace in place and provide support to your achilles tendon. Then wrap your ankle in a tensor bandage. Look up a diagram to see what I mean.

    Or you can buy a brace that does essentially that without all the tape and bandages. I've got one of those which I use on hilly rides.

    Which brings me to this ... is this ride you're doing more hilly than what you've been riding lately? One of the leading causes of achilles tendon problems is riding with a saddle that is too high for the climbing conditions. If you're doing a lot of climbing, the recommendation is to lower your saddle a touch.

    When you get home, go to the Dr. and seek professional help ... achilles tendon problems don't heal quickly. When I damaged mine, it was 6 months before it felt better, and I was off the bicycle most of that time.

    Oh, and use ibuprofen rather than tylenol.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Try lowering your saddle a bit ... and wrap the ankle.

    There is a special wrapping technique for the achilles tendon - you might be able to find diagrams on the internet or get a Dr to show you how to do it, but basically you make a brace of tape that runs from the middle/bottom of your foot (arch area) up to about mid-calf, then wrap a band of tape at the top of your achilles tendon (mid-calf), another around the middle of your foot. These bands hold the brace in place and provide support to your achilles tendon. Then wrap your ankle in a tensor bandage. Look up a diagram to see what I mean.

    Or you can buy a brace that does essentially that without all the tape and bandages. I've got one of those which I use on hilly rides.

    Which brings me to this ... is this ride you're doing more hilly than what you've been riding lately? One of the leading causes of achilles tendon problems is riding with a saddle that is too high for the climbing conditions. If you're doing a lot of climbing, the recommendation is to lower your saddle a touch.

    When you get home, go to the Dr. and seek professional help ... achilles tendon problems don't heal quickly. When I damaged mine, it was 6 months before it felt better, and I was off the bicycle most of that time.

    Oh, and use ibuprofen rather than tylenol.


    lost of good info. thanks machka. this ride has definitely had more hills than i have been doing lately. i am thinking maybe it also has something to do with the shoes i am wearing. it's pretty hot out and all i brought with me was a pair of cheap vans type slip ons. i will try and lower my seat some, and hopefully find some market on the road where i can get some ibuprofen. i only have about 40 miles left to do today, so it's doable, just going to be a crappy few hours.

  5. #5
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Just lower the saddle a little bit ... don't drop it a couple inches or anything like that.

    These slip ons you brought ... do they have a thinner sole than what you normally use? If so, that would essentially make your saddle height higher than what you're used to. If that is the case, I'd recommend lowering the saddle the difference between the thickness of the two shoe soles, and maybe a couple mm more for good measure.

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    I've dealt with achilles pain before. It was annoying but never debilitating, so you may be able to continue the ride if it doesn't get any worse. My recommendation is to lower the saddle as has been stated and to consciously pedal with your heals down. Pedaling with your heals raised (achilles contracted) places similar stress on the achilles -- though not as severe -- as jogging on your toes as if you were sprinting.

  7. #7
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    When done with the ride, I recommend seeing a podiatrist. I have heel pain as well, but mine was brought on by a collapsing arch and associated heel spurs. The podiatrist may be able to diagnose the problem and give advice on how to prevent/cure it. Of course, if the pain goes away after the trip, there may be no need to see one at all.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Oh, and use ibuprofen rather than tylenol.
    +1 Ibuprofen has (at least) as good anti-inflammatory effects as Voltarene (diclofenac) or Mobic (meloxicam) in my experience, and is available over the counter (where I live).
    Severe pain I take 800 mg which leaves me a bit "stoned" aswell, so maybe not so good for riding in traffic... Disclaimer: I am not a Dr!..

    Get Well!

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    Recovering mentalist Randochap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HardyWeinberg View Post

    For me ... eccentric (but not regular) calf-stretching
    Me too.
    VeloWeb | VeloWebLog

    "The bicycle is the noblest invention of mankind." ~William Saroyan

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    This is Shangri La MTBMaven's Avatar
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    Also consider moving your cleats towards your heal. This will move your foot forward on the pedal and put less strain on your Achilles.

    I also suffered from some pretty bad Achilles pain as well shortly after getting into long distance road biking. A few fittings later the problems are gone. For me moving my saddle back maybe a cm made all the difference. Basically my knee was too far forward over my foot when my pedals were horizontal. This created an over use injury after about 5-6 hours of riding.
    I thought of that while riding my bicycle. ~ Albert Einstein on the theory of relativity

  11. #11
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    I don't know about the cause in your case but this happened to me at the start of our tour. The GP said it was probably due to over-exertion or my body's poor design for bike riding. He suggested we get the bus Instead, we took the painkillers he prescribed (also with anti-inflammatory) and took it real slow for the next month. Yes, it took that long to fully heal. Lots of putting my ankle up on ice (or frozen peas if you can't find ice). Ride for 30 minutes. Rest for 15. Repeat. Tedious but necessary.
    We blog about bike touring, with reviews, tips and cycle touring podcasts at Travelling Two

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    I have the same problem and still haven't found a solution. However, here's what I've been doing.

    1. Visited two doctors - One gave me a set of Orthotics that were waaaay too hard for my foot. Even though they were fine for the Plantar, the Achilles problem made them too painful to wear. Second doctor gave me a shot in the Achilles and it lasted for three days. You should not do more than two of these shots or your Achilles could snap!

    2. Acupuncture actually works --- I started this and while it did provide some relief for my Plantar. However, it was getting expensive and did not cure the Achilles problem. By the way, your Achilles problem is also plantar related.

    3. Stretching may help and sometimes does --- I started buying stretching aids and doing all the exercise but once the Achilles became inflamed, it ended up causing more injury. Stretching helps the plantar issue but not the Achilles issue.

    4. ICEING WORKS --- I purchased Gel Packs from ACE and they worked just as good as acupuncture and with better results. Much safer and than taking shots. Maybe I should ice then do stretching?

    5. I finally found a set of orthodics that actually work -- A much more comfortable solution from Foot Smart were Archmates and FootSmart 3-D Silicone. Very comfortable and better than the $400.00 hard plastic custom orthotics

    However, once you take them off, you're back to the same problem! I don't want to end up wearing orthotics the rest of my life but that just maybe the case! Regardless, I’m feeling much better than four months ago but it’s taking a long time to heal!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve View Post
    5. I finally found a set of orthodics that actually work -- A much more comfortable solution from Foot Smart were Archmates and FootSmart 3-D Silicone. Very comfortable and better than the $400.00 hard plastic custom orthotics!
    I've been cautioned away from podiatrists, they apparently have one big tool, the custom orthotic, and they will apply it, but a lot of times a $30 insole like superfeet will do the job, in combo w/ exercises to backstop whatever imbalances may have led to the problems...

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