So I received this question recently from a friend just back from a three week trip to Spain:
“Nick… about half way through my trip I noticed a horrendous pain in my Achilles that seemed to be worse in the morning, getting worse as the days went on… it was so painful I was contemplating calling you from Spain and asking you to book me an appointment for as soon as I could get off the plane. I didn’t do anything or remember hurting it in any way significant, have any thoughts what might have caused it?”
– Tony, L. 53. Gormley, Ontario.
So if you’re being more active at this time of year because of the longer days, pay careful attention to avoid this problem:
Here’s a bit about the problem with the Achilles and how it just happens for no apparent reason…. Well, it likely did happen for a very good reason – that being the person in this story swapping his usual running and dress style shoes for summer sandals. The difference between the two? …Not much more than “1 inch”. As in, the difference in the heel support offered by runners in comparison to wearing to sandals or flip flops, which offer none. When I quizzed Tony a bit further, he revealed to me that for pretty much the whole of his three weeks he had been walking around in flip flops and sandals. These types of footwear offer very little support and only ADD tension to muscles such as calf and Achilles tendons, and because of this pain is inevitable. I know Tony’s history, and he’s had a bad back in the past too. That’s a very dangerous cocktail that is almost guaranteed to cause Achilles tendon pain to the point where Tony found it almost impossible to get out of bed in the morning because of the pain.
If you’ve had lower back pain in the past, wearing flip flops continuously is something I wouldn’t recommend. And if it’s taking YOU twenty minutes or so in the morning to warm up an Achilles tendon or just to stop it from hurting, a good place to look to make a positive improvement is what you wear on your feet – the NIGHT before.
Because I walk around Unionville main street and Toogood pond I’m seeing lots of people wearing summer sandals and likely to be falling victim of the same type of Achilles tendon pain that Tony suffered from because their Achilles tendon is being stressed and stretched in way that it just isn’t used too.
Tip: If you’re going away this summer for a couple of weeks be careful not to only be walking around in flip flops all day long… they’re not great for back, knee or Achilles problems and will increase the likelihood of pain and stiffness in any of the above by the time you get back.
And if you’re spending any extra time walking or running right now, be sure to do it wearing nice soft and very cushioned trainers.
Nicholas Halkidis B.A. Kin(Hons), RMT, CAT(C)