Author Topic: Achillies problems, a cause?  (Read 1595 times)

Dave_C

  • Trying to get rid of my belly... and failing!
Achillies problems, a cause?
« on: August 23, 2017, 03:45:00 pm »
Hello,

{I may have answered my own question below - just by putting my thoughts into words} But if you have any experience in recovering from achillies problems please feel free to share your experience and thoughts.

This year my achillies have become a problem. I have never has any pain or swelling in the past 20 years, so it came as a surprise. I have had the usual tightness of hamstrings, which a stretch whilst on the bike sorted out, but never as bad as it is now. I should add I don't routinely stretch but maybe it is time I started. I'm 46 and not as young as I was, in my .. err.. youth.
It started the weekend before a 300 (Beyond the Dales we know) with a 100 mile cycle to Glasgow and back. My right calf felt tight and slightly strained at the end. I rode it from cold, which is what I usually do. Easy out and faster back. The 300 on the 29th April resulted in my right achillies being painful in the last ~60km. I had pulled my toes up to limit it's movement which may have done more harm than good. The next week was grating, pain, swelling etc...
As a result I rested for 2 months and sought physio which appeared to work, in that I had good range of movement and no more grating or pain. I was given excercises which I did at first but have tailed off in late June.
Early July I took my cyclocross (not my audax bike - different setup) bike to Europe and cycled a few 50 - 60 - 7 80km rides with no problems. I could feel the calf slightly, but no swelling, no grating, no pain.
Not much commuting over the summer and last Sunday I rode a DIY 400 back on my Audax bike. Result? Swelling, grating, pain, restriction in mobility of BOTH achillies!

So my worry is, why now, what have I done. I changed the seat post, as I bought a new MTB frame in December and the donor bike's seatpost was too narrow. The Audax bike's fit so I used that until I got a new seatpost. So it could be a different seatpost height? Could this be the cause? I'm not fully convinced though as I rode a DIY 600 in early April with no problems what so ever, and the seat post has not moved since I moved it back from the MTB build. I even marked the height with black insulation tape so I knew how far to put it back in.

But nothing else has changed. Could it be a mixture of wrong stretches over the last couple of years, on the bike pushing back on the pedals instead of against a way on a flat surface? Could it be coupled with a higher than correct seatpost height? My shoes are the same, the pedals.... hmm, I did change the pedals, as the old ones has started to seize in the bearings... They are not the same make/model...

I am resting until end Oct when I am riding the Old Peculier 200 from Darlo...

Could a slightly higher seat post and different pedals rally be the cause.

How long should I rest, completely? 4-6 months? Until Spring? How long does it take for Achillies to heal? I friend whose wife is a phyiso says they are difficult to heal (no pun intended). It is annoying as I have ridden 4 & 1.2 SRs with no issue....
@DaveCrampton < wot a twit.
http://veloviewer.com/athlete/421683/

Wowbagger

  • Dez's butler
    • Musings of a Gentleman Cyclist
Re: Achillies problems, a cause?
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2017, 03:53:08 pm »
This is likely to be of no help at all, but about 3 years ago I tore my calf muscle - gastrocnemius. It meant 3 months off the bike and in practice that meant more because by the time I had recovered sufficiently to go cycling again it was November.

But: the first two medical professionals I saw (GP & triage nurse) both diagnosed a ruptured achilles tendon. It was after ultrasound that it was diagnosed as the gastrocnemius. I told them at the time that it was not my achilles because the pain was too high up.

The cause of the tear was starting off with one foot on the ground - my left. I had already covered about 30 miles that day so it was frustrating as well as painful.
Homo sapiens - a creature so intelligent it knowingly sowed the seeds of its own destruction and did nothing about it.

Re: Achillies problems, a cause?
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2017, 03:59:39 pm »
I had Achilles problem a few years back - over-exerted with insufficient training and ended up with it audibly grating on one side. It took several weeks of rest to recover (ice and rest - made the terrible mistake of a hot bath at one point, really aggravating it). Probably six weeks in total? I’d read gloom and doom online that it would take months and months, but 6 weeks was definitely enough for me. But I was strict about resting. After it cleared up, I went for a bike fit, and they said my saddle was about 1.5 cm too high. It was weird to lower it at first, but since then I’ve had no Achilles problems, at all. They were absolutely sure it was caused by saddle too high.

zigzag

  • unfuckwithable
Re: Achillies problems, a cause?
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2017, 04:07:23 pm »
i've had it once in my early cycling "career", it took about two months to heal completely. i was advised to squeeze and rub my achilles few times a day every day as this would prevent from scar tissue build up (which would stay there for life and therefore tendons could be easily aggravated).

Re: Achillies problems, a cause?
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2017, 04:15:30 pm »
I suffer with Achilles trouble on the right side due to an incident some years back involving a pair of pink fluffy slippers, a bottle of Jack Daniels and a belief I could Cossack dance. I do strengthening exercises these days involving standing on the edge of a step and moving from heels below to tip toes.

It's still less than ideal, gets irritated by climbing and is ridiculously sensitive to cleat position despite running 9 degrees of float.

Re: Achillies problems, a cause?
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2017, 04:16:35 pm »
I have had achilles trouble from seatpost being a bit too high in the past.
I raised it to alleviate knee trouble.
So quite a fine seatpost adjustment range for me between potential knee problems and potential achilles problems.

Smeth

  • less Grimpeur than Whimpeur...
Re: Achillies problems, a cause?
« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2017, 04:26:33 pm »
Had one bout of Achilles pain that lasted a year on and off. Hurt most when "ankling" a gear on steep climbs. Some coaches/physios are now not teaching that technique for this reason. (Heel down at bottom of down stroke). I am convinced this is the cause for me as when I taped my Achilles with KT tape to reduce this flexing the pain reduced. Pedal toe down to test this out. The tape doesn't absolutely stop the flexing but it reminds you not to flex.

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LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: Achillies problems, a cause?
« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2017, 04:33:26 pm »
I find that many modern cycling shoes have too high a heel cup for my anatomy. When ankling too much, the high heel cup digs into my Achilles. It is never a problem when I use cycling shoes with lower heel cups.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Re: Achillies problems, a cause?
« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2017, 04:55:38 pm »
I suffer with Achilles trouble on the right side due to an incident some years back involving a pair of pink fluffy slippers, a bottle of Jack Daniels and a belief I could Cossack dance. I do strengthening exercises these days involving standing on the edge of a step and moving from heels below to tip toes.

It's still less than ideal, gets irritated by climbing and is ridiculously sensitive to cleat position despite running 9 degrees of float.

I think the exercise is better done tip toe to heel drop - there is good clinical evidence that eccentric work can help the achilles repair - plus an n=1 example in my case.

I'll try to add a bit more later

hellymedic

  • Just do it!
Re: Achillies problems, a cause?
« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2017, 05:30:52 pm »
My left Achilles became troublesome 11 months into my first year in AUK. (May 1994)
I had fluid retention from a 300 the previous week. I probably also had a mild chest infection.
I shifted staging for our choral concert and might have knocked my calf.
I was commuting BIG distances.
I took NSAIDs, which helped.

I developed a technique of not ankling and did my first 400. My last 100 were sore!

Things partly settled and I went on to do another two 600s that year but it was still niggling.

Niggling stopped after Mildenhall, when I was camped somewhat head down and it was cool in the tent.

In retrospect, I had provoked things in several ways: unaccustomed BIG distances, minor trauma etc but somehow battled through. My calf grated palpably when things were at their worst so I do think there was a genuine problem, despite managing to continue working, singing, commuting and completing my first SR.

I've not had any trouble since Autumn 1994 and did SRs in 1995 & 1996.

BrianI

  • Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's Lepidopterist Man!
Re: Achillies problems, a cause?
« Reply #10 on: September 01, 2017, 09:26:52 pm »
Dave_C, do you do any other exercise apart from cycling?

Personally I swear by yoga.  Keeps my supple and all the various niggles I had in back / knees a couple of years ago are pretty much gone. Even if you aren't interested in the spiritual side of Yoga, think of it as mindful stretching.A few rounds of Sun Sequence in the morning get me up and ready!  I can thoroughly recommend Linda Gerletti's classes in Dunfermline:  https://www.myoga4u.com/   :thumbsup:

Probably worth while seeing a physio to assess your achillies problem though, I can recommend Pip Yeates' clinic in Dunfermline.   :thumbsup:

Re: Achillies problems, a cause?
« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2017, 10:38:26 pm »
The other thing you could consider is mid-foot cleat positioning.  Google it and look for Joe Friel and Steve Hogg, who are both advocates of it.  Some pros do it and also some ultra-racers.  I'm currently experimenting with a moderate version of mid-foot (Speedplay adaptor plate used to set cleats as far back as possible) to help with some long-term ankle issues I've had.

The advantage is that it reduces the role that your achilles plays in the pedal stroke considerably - ie it stops you ankling.  It does require a few other position changes, such as moving your saddle down and forward, and potentially changing your stem as well. 

Re: Achillies problems, a cause?
« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2017, 04:27:43 pm »
Hi, I have recently suffered with Achilles tendonitis during my marathon training.

Interestingly for many Achilles issues (such as tendonitis) rest and ice will not help if it isn't an injury caused by swelling.   If its a tear rthen you need to rebuild the muscle and it also needs to be rebuilt in a certain way to become strong.

My problems were due to mini tears and general weakness.   I was told to do 100-200 concentric stair raises each day.   So you stand on a bottom step with most of your foot over the edge of the stair.   Then you use the good ankle to raise all your weight onto the tip toe of your weak foot.  At that point you take all the weight on the weaker tip toe and slowly lower your foot down and push the ankle past the level point...so the ankle is below the step.

Its very painful for the first week but the results were incredible - all pain gone and a much stronger ankle and Achilles.    This exercise seems to be a go to for many runners with weak or tight Achilles so might be worth looking up on youtube

Dave_C

  • Trying to get rid of my belly... and failing!
Re: Achillies problems, a cause?
« Reply #13 on: December 14, 2017, 02:53:50 pm »
Hi,.....
.... I was told to do 100-200 concentric stair raises each day.   So you stand on a bottom step with most of your foot over the edge of the stair.   Then you use the good ankle to raise all your weight onto the tip toe of your weak foot.  At that point you take all the weight on the weaker tip toe and slowly lower your foot down and push the ankle past the level point...so the ankle is below the step....

Thanks for the tip TREJedi. I live in a bungalow though.... ;-)

Update: I found that my seat post was 10cm higher than my commuting bike. I lowered it ~10cm on a 200km Audax in late Sept and had no issues. I settled on ~8cm lower after getting back ache early on. I'd found an article online about seat heights linked to tendonitis.

I think I need to keep a record of my bike's setup once I find the sweet spot.
@DaveCrampton < wot a twit.
http://veloviewer.com/athlete/421683/

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: Achillies problems, a cause?
« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2017, 03:06:36 pm »
cm or mm?
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Dave_C

  • Trying to get rid of my belly... and failing!
Re: Achillies problems, a cause?
« Reply #15 on: December 14, 2017, 03:24:58 pm »
cm or mm?

Centimetre. I took the seat post off the audax bike and put it on a mountain bike. The later on put it back, at the height marked for the mountain bike, I'd put some black insulation tape on for.

Operator Error!
@DaveCrampton < wot a twit.
http://veloviewer.com/athlete/421683/

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: Achillies problems, a cause?
« Reply #16 on: December 14, 2017, 04:04:42 pm »
I wouldn't be able to reach the pedals if the saddle was 10cm too high. Do you normally ride with an unusually low saddle?
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Dave_C

  • Trying to get rid of my belly... and failing!
Re: Achillies problems, a cause?
« Reply #17 on: December 14, 2017, 04:06:47 pm »
I wouldn't be able to reach the pedals if the saddle was 10cm too high. Do you normally ride with an unusually low saddle?

Perhaps, but any lower and my knees ache after 150km.
@DaveCrampton < wot a twit.
http://veloviewer.com/athlete/421683/

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: Achillies problems, a cause?
« Reply #18 on: December 14, 2017, 05:05:32 pm »
Don't misunderstand me, whatever saddle height works for you is fine.

My knees, back or bum complain if my saddle height is wrong by less than 10 millimeters, so I can't imagine how you managed to ride (at all!) with your saddle height 80-100mm different to its normal height.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

hellymedic

  • Just do it!
Re: Achillies problems, a cause?
« Reply #19 on: December 14, 2017, 05:19:32 pm »
Don't misunderstand me, whatever saddle height works for you is fine.

My knees, back or bum complain if my saddle height is wrong by less than 10 millimeters, so I can't imagine how you managed to ride (at all!) with your saddle height 80-100mm different to its normal height.

+1

I upped my saddle about 4cm after reading about the Loughborough formula. Though this turned out a bit high, I never reduced seat height by more than a couple of cm after that.

I think at inside leg 1.09, my pelvis would rock, which is suboptimal.

I am not convinced that formulae that work for men are necessarily applicable women, with their relatively sorter shins and feet.

Re: Achillies problems, a cause?
« Reply #20 on: December 16, 2017, 12:27:55 am »
The other thing you could consider is mid-foot cleat positioning.... 

yup.  You might have provoked the problem with different shoes (= different cleat position) and more ankling with different saddle height (again perhaps because of the different pedals...?).

I wrecked my Achilles tendons mid-tour (they started to rub and be sore when moving rather than were strained at the attachments) and I had to ride the last couple of days with a low saddle, more or less pedalling with my heels. They were so bad that I even struggled to push the clutch pedal down in my car, or walk more than a few hundred yards at a go. It took about a year before they were anywhere near right again.

cheers