Weekend warriors, rejoice! July 4 is right around the corner, and for most working people that means an extra day off this week. Despite the summer heat, all that extra free time might make a few morning or twilight games of basketball or tennis impossible to resist.
The weekend warrior mentality comes with some risks, though. Short bursts of intense activity after you’ve been sedentary for extended periods of time is known to increase your risk of Achilles tendinitis, especially if you are middle-aged.
This relatively common condition is characterized by microscopic tearing and swelling in the fiber that make up your Achilles tendon. This long “cord” runs along the back of your leg and ankle and inserts into your heel. It occurs when the tendon is overworked and overstressed, or placed under intense strain. Although it can happen to anyone, middle-aged adults are generally most susceptible. They’re “caught in the middle”—in this age group, the structure of the tendon is already beginning to weaken with age, but rates of active engagement in vigorous physical activity still remain relatively high compared with older adults.
That doesn’t mean we want you to give up playing, though! We just want you to be smart about it, so you can minimize stress on your Achilles while still going for a run or enjoying your favorite sports. Always remember to wear well-fitting, supportive footwear designed for the type of activity you’re engaged in—because worn-out shoes greatly increase your risk of injury. When you go out for that run, stick toward flatter terrain as much as possible, as inclines create extra pressure.
Try not to launch into new activities with too much gusto, especially if you’re starting a new training program after a long period of inactivity. Build slowly, increasing your activity little by little, so that your body gets used to handling new ways to move.
If you’re feeling tightness, aching, or pain along your Achilles tendon, visit Harvey Danciger, DPM today. If caught early, Achilles tendinitis usually responds very well to conservative care. Set up an appointment at our Palm Desert, CA office today by dialing 760-568-0108.