oscillot’s AchillesBlog

Achilles-friendly running shoes

03/22/2016 · 8 Comments

Achilles blog, I can’t quit you. The anniversary of my rupture is fast approaching. Single leg heel raises are slowly but surely improving. I think I’ll start incorporating two-legged raises off a step, as well.

I’ve retired from marathons (tendonitis) and basketball (can’t go through this again), but have filled the void with other interesting activities (hiking, beginner gymnastics, and mountain biking), which have made me a more well-rounded athlete. With a ROUNDER waistline, too, haha - I’m still working off that Cinnabon weight.

What actually inspired me to post today is how impressed I’ve been with my new hiking / trail running sneakers, the Under Armour SpeedForm XC Mid Trail. I think they came out a while ago, because they are hard to find and expensive. I bought mine for $180 from a guy in Lithuania off eBay.

What’s so great about them is the upper is a built-in brace that wraps, supports, and protects your ankle and Achilles. It also serves as a gator, keeping rocks and dirt out of your shoe, and is barely noticeable when running with no “hot spots.” The sole is lighter than it looks, moderately cushioned, and very flexible. I’m so impressed with them that I’m thinking of buying another pair for when these wear out. They’re a better performing sneaker for running and walking than the Kobes I posted about earlier, and in the black colorway, they aren’t obnoxiously styled.

Under Armour made a similar sneaker called the FTHR Shield TRC Storm last year, but it must have been a limited run for the niche mud running market, because they are even harder to find. If anyone sees a pair of these in size 13, or knows of a similarly-designed running shoe, please let me know in the comments!

Oh yeah, one more product endorsement. When I had the boot on, it was really tough to make it to the gym, so I used dumbbells and elastic bands for resistance training. Those are better than nothing, but I have also been really impressed with the $40 WOSS Attack trainer I bought off Amazon. If you’ve heard of TRX, it’s the same thing, but ~$200 cheaper. Basically, you suspend some heavy duty straps with handles in an outward-facing door jam or around a tree, and use your body weight to do chest, shoulder, back, and core movements. The lower and slower you go, the harder it is, up to your full body weight. For me, it’s 90% as good as the cable setup they have at my gym, which for $40 is a tremendous value. I used YouTube and experimentation to settle on my favorite movements - atomic pushups are killer!

(this isn’t me in the picture)

Hope this helps, guys. To you new members in the club, hang in there and stay positive. Happy healing, everyone!

6/26/16 UPDATE: Got myself a pair of Hoka Clifton 1 running shoes, and these are better for the road. Not the most stylish shoe by any stretch, but the extra foam really does help reduce impact on the joints including the Achilles. No more tendonitis, thank you!

The Under Armours are still useful on the trail, where loose dirt and mud serve as natural cushioning, and the high upper helps keep dirt and rocks out.

Now that I’m running pain-free again, I’m hoping to work myself back to a half marathon at 18 months post-ATR.

Categories: Uncategorized

8 responses so far ↓

  • fauxgordeaux // Mar 28th 2016 at 3:57 pm

    Hey man–though it’s been a while since I’ve visited this site (mostly a good thing) yours was one of the blogs that i consulted a lot in the weeks and months after surgery. So thanks!

    We’re on a similar schedule and coincidentally, I tore mine playing basketball in San Diego (I live in SF) 4/18/15. And from I can tell from your entires, our recoveries have been similar. (I’m also trying to work off some weight gain!)

    I haven’t found the courage to jog yet (though I think I recognize this as unnecessary fear), but I’ve been doing a little jumping a lot of squats and lunges. My single leg raise is getting stronger but my foot still tires excessively–I cramp pretty badly almost every day–are you experiencing this at all?

    And my swelling is still pretty bad. I think I expected this to subside by now; I’m curious if you’re still dealing with that. You went to PT longer than I did and it sounds like Punisher Jim was a lot more aggressive than my therapist.

    Continued good luck with the recovery!

  • oscillot // Mar 28th 2016 at 5:47 pm

    Nice to meet you, Gordeaux. Yes, my feet (mostly the arches) cramp, too! Because of my calf cramps in the months and day leading up to my injury, I treat these with a lot of respect and scale back for the rest of the day. Mine aren’t as frequent as yours (roughly once/wk), and require strenuous movements to trigger them. A good exercise my PT gave me, which I haven’t practiced in a while, is to keep your toes and heel on the ground while making a fist with your plantar fascia.

    Everyone’s recovery journey is going to be a little bit different. I haven’t swelled up in ~4 months, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should have any cause for concern. I would definitely try the Elasto Gel ankle ice wraps and get some good compression socks, and use them religiously, if you aren’t already. I wear compression socks exclusively, and feel a significant difference in stiffness and range of motion when I’m barefoot or in ankle socks (could also be the warmth).

    I completely relate to your hesitation about jogging. The mental hurdles are the last ones to fall, and it’s not an unnecessary fear - it’s a survival instinct. I’ll post another article about this when I get a chance, but I actually played one on one basketball with my daughter, and have done a few gymnastics classes this last month. Both were a little scary, and I am definitely holding back, but in the long run I know that as long as I don’t overexert and injure myself, there are still marginal gains to be had this coming year (especially from losing weight). You may also find yourself modifying your running form to an “old man shuffle” - this isn’t a bad thing. Listen to your body and scale your activity to whatever feels right.

    Keep at it, Gordeaux!

  • Petery // Jul 30th 2016 at 1:31 am

    Hi oscillot,

    Would you mind sharing your progress on one legged heel raise and calf size difference?

    Are you still healed short?

  • oscillot // Jul 30th 2016 at 12:28 pm

    Hi Petery,

    I have been able to do one legged heel raises for a few months now, and my injured side feels ~80% as strong as my non-injured side. My injured side is weaker, but my non-injured side has more issues (soreness, tendonitis), probably from overcompensating.

    Both calves are 42 cm around, and equally tight. I regularly foam roll, then stretch, to help loosen up. This is especially helpful upon waking. I also use a lacrosse ball to roll out my plantar fascia, and take turmeric to help manage inflammation, as it’s much safer than ibuprofen.

    There are visible imbalances in my gait (injured foot stands behind non-injured, and non-injured foot splays outward). No pain results, but I am actively trying to point my non-injured foot straight rather than out. The hamstring and IT band on my non-injured side gets a little tight from running, but doesn’t stop me from working out. (I foam roll these, as well.)

    How is your recovery progressing? Hope this helps, and happy healing!

  • oscillot // Jul 30th 2016 at 2:20 pm

    Oh, and also, try not to get frustrated / impatient if your healing is a little slow, or if/when you encounter setbacks. On days I don’t have the strength for one legged heel raises, I’ll do them two legged with impeccable form and an extra-slow eccentric lowering. The point is to bring in fresh blood, assess your movement, and break up scar tissue. One should NOT blast the muscles and tendons to the point of injury. Recovery is just as important as exercise.

    Happy healing!

  • Petery // Jul 30th 2016 at 6:45 pm

    I am just 5 weeks post op, still a long way to go. I am worried about early ROM and healing long. My ultimate goal is to regain close to 100% of heel raise strength on my injured leg. One of the immediate goals is to heal short by 12 - 16 weeks. And then elongate the calf muscle as I start strength training.

    That way, I have a better chance to regain all the calf muscle (as in your case). Now I am worrying that my tendon is too flexible, since I can almost active dorsiflex my foot to neutral…

  • oscillot // Jul 30th 2016 at 11:16 pm

    I don’t think you have anything to worry about, Peter. My healing was by no means a linear function, especially early on. There will be breakthroughs, and there will be setbacks. Probably the best thing you can do at this point is heal up, don’t re-injure yourself, and stay strong mentally. Happy healing!

  • Stuart // Jul 31st 2016 at 11:13 am

    Petery - I don’t think you can affect a healing short once out of surgery. This is something the surgeon does. I agree there is much you can do to avoid healing long. Your active ROM should get better and to be almost neutral now is not bad either. It certainly does not mean you have healed long. Almost is not neutral either and you will be suprises how far off it you really are.

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