[pct-l] Achilles Tendonitis

Martin Reinhart atpctcdt at yahoo.com
Wed Jan 4 13:15:35 CST 2012

There have been several questions about problems with the Achilles Tendon lately. Rather than replying individually, this is how I dealt with the issue. Hope it helps!

In '07, I had to abandon an AT thru-hike due to Achilles Tendonitis but managed to deal with the issue on later hikes. (AT NOBO 07 GA - VA, AT SOBO 09 ME- VA, LT/AT SOBO 2010 starting at VT/Canada border hiking to Springer).

1. Pre-hike: Stretch ALL tendons (including hamstrings).
2. Pre-hike: Strengthen all muscles in your foot. Usually, this involves balancing yourself while doing exercises barefoot (I did these exercises with a trainer). Hiking short distances barefoot is best.
3. Stretch before and after each day on a thru-hike.
4. Start your thru-hike taking Ibuprofen (VI) each day. Start taking 800 mg of VI ***BEFORE*** you hike each day, then again 800 mg midday. After 3-4 days, reduce to 600 mg, after 1 week to 400 mg. After that reduce the dose further. You should be hiking VI free after 2 weeks. (Note: A doctor prescribed Indomethacin which is stronger than ibuprofen. This caused severe stomach irritation. I stick to VI. Always ask your doctor before taking any medication!).
5. If your tendon flairs up mid-hike, take a break, take VI again and reduce the dose gradually as in the previous step. The idea is to never hike on an irritated tendon.
6. Use "Sole" footbeds, I use Sole Ed Viesturs (I sound like a commercial, but I am not related to the company in any way). Buy shoes that are 1/2 size larger than usual and use the heat moldable Sole inserts. I have high arches and my tendon problem is partially caused by this. I also have custom footbeds from my podiatrist, but the Soles are cheaper and work better for me.
7. When going up a steeper incline, always walk on your toes. When my Achilles acts up it feels natural to put down the entire foot, starting with the heel. Don't do this. Steeper uphills always on your toes!
8. When standing/resting, always face downhill, in particular your toes should face downhill (and you'll have the better view anyway).
9. At the end of each day, massage your feet including your Achilles tendon, about 5 minutes each.

I plan on thru-hiking the PCT this year. Happy stretching!
Martin Reinhart

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