Got this question asked by a friend who recently got back from a three week trip to Thailand:
“Paul… about half way through my trip I noticed a horrendous pain in my Achilles that seemed to be worse on a morning, getting worse as the days went on… it was so painful I was contemplating ringing from Thailand 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”
– Phil, M. 53. Hartlepool.
…Let me start by saying that this is a very common problem at this time of the year – i.e. in the middle of summer and happens a lot when people go on holiday.
And I’ll answer Phil’s question in the context of helping you to avoid the discomfort that can often and so easily be caused by spending some time at one of Hartlepool’s summer hot spots for families and walkers alike.
So, here’s a bit about the problem with the Achilles and it just happening for no apparent reason. Well, it likely did happened for a very good reason – that being the person in this story swapping his usual trainer 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 trainers in comparison to wearing to sandals or flip flops, which offer non.
When I quizzed ‘”Phil” 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.
And because these types of footwear offer very little support and only ADD tension to muscles such as calf and Achilles tendons, seriously, pain is inevitable.
I know Phil’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 Phil found it almost impossible to get out of bed on a 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 on a 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 as I walk or cycle along the sea front promenade at the minute, I’m seeing lots of people wearing summer sandals and likely to be falling victim of the same type of Achilles tendon pain that Phil 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 them by the time you get back. And if you’re walking along the sea front any night, be sure to do it wearing nice soft and very cushioned trainers.
Article published in the Hartlepool Mail, Wed 5th August 2014 and written by Paul Gough.