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I am a long time distance runner turned amateur triathlete who has had a long time achilles tendon problem in both legs. I first injured my achilles in college about 15 years ago, and since that time the injury has flared up on and off. In recent years I switched to triathlon training because it allowed for hard training every day while laying off the achilles completely (while swimming), or partially (while cycling).

To get to my question, I was wondering if anyone knows of a strength training program which can build up the calves in such a way that running won't aggevate the achilles, or at least will aggrevate it less? Currently the only thing I do is standing one-legged calf raises, once per week, with a little added weight. But I am open to doing much more work if it could help my problem.

FYI the reason I want to do this is because I only run at most every other day now due to the achilles problem. But I have my eye on maybe doing a standard traithlon or a half marathon at some point, both of which would require much more running mileage than I am currently doing.

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    "Hard training every day" - Antithetical to what you are trying to achieve. And while the calves don't play a major role in the pedaling stroke, they do play a role. I'd suggest a consult with a good coach and a PT. – JohnP Dec 12 '16 at 16:24
  • Hi John, I meant that if I were to run every day, my current achilles problem would not let me do, for example, marathon level mileage each day. – Tim Biegeleisen Dec 12 '16 at 23:15
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The Achilles is not just about the calves, it's also about the feet. Feet exercises such as picking up a golf ball with your toes and dropping it into a cup, or scrunching up a towel will help. If your feet are weak, your Achilles absorbs more stress. Standing calf raises are good but consider adding other lower leg exercises to your routine, such as squatting calf raises, to target the soleus, or more complex exercises.

And don't forget foam rolling the feet and calves (and other forms of SMR). Stretching may or may not help.

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In my experience, load management is what is most important to tendon issues. First, reducing the load (running and rehabilitative exercises) to a manageable amount. Then, slowly increasing it. Typically, we start with static calf exercises, then calf raises, then loaded calf raises, then hops like skipping for rehab. Careful monitoring of how much running and calf exercises you can handle. Indicators that you are doing too much: stiffness, especially the next morning. Pain- pain might not be a good indicator, I usually like to see that pain is no worse 24 hours later and generally not increasing with increases in load.

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  • Hi Tim (nice first name by the way), I am sort of not in the rehab phase at this point. I'd say that I have achilles tendonosis, meaning it is borderline injured. But I agree with your general rehab approach. – Tim Biegeleisen Dec 13 '16 at 14:41
  • Thanks man. I think what "load management" is to rehab, "training volume" is to performance. I hope it goes well for you Tim :) – Tim Begley Dec 13 '16 at 16:00

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