Achilles tendon pain is a common issue for runners, especially when changes in routine or equipment occur. It can be frustrating and concerning, but with the right approach, you can manage the pain and get back to your regular training. 

Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to deal with Achilles pain effectively.

Understanding the Cause Of Achilles’ pain

Several factors can contribute to Achilles pain…

  1. Change in Shoe Brand: Transitioning to a new shoe with a different heel-to-toe drop can place additional strain on your calf muscles and Achilles tendon.
  1. Running Terrain: Running on unfamiliar or uneven surfaces can alter your gait and strain your Achilles.
  1. Hard Surfaces: Running on hard surfaces like pavement can increase impact and stress on your tendons.

Immediate Relief For Achilles Pain

  1. Remove the Stressor: The key to relieving Achilles pain is to reduce the stress on the tendon. This involves altering your shoe setup or running surface.
  1. Raise Your Heel: Temporarily raising your heel can alleviate pressure on your Achilles. You can do this easily by folding a sock and placing it under the insole of your shoe, providing a slight lift (about 3-4 mm). This small change can significantly reduce the strain on your tendon.

Steps to Implement To Stop Achilles Pain

  1. Insert Sock Lift: Place the folded sock in both shoes to ensure balance. This minor elevation helps reduce the pull on the Achilles.
  1. Monitor Pain: Continue running with the heel lift for at least a week, even if the pain subsides. Gradually assess whether removing the lift reintroduces the pain.
  1. Evaluate Shoe Choice: If pain persists after removing the sock lift, consider switching to a shoe with a higher heel-to-toe drop to reduce Achilles strain permanently.

Long-term Strategies To Prevent Achilles Pain

  1. Strength and Flexibility Exercises: Incorporate calf-strengthening and Achilles-stretching exercises into your routine to build resilience in the tendon.
  1. Gradual Terrain Transition: If you need to change your running terrain, do so gradually to allow your body to adapt without undue strain.
  1. Consult a Professional: If pain persists or worsens, seek advice from a physical therapist or a professional running coach who can provide tailored guidance and ensure you are not developing a chronic injury.

Achilles tendon pain can be managed effectively with prompt and appropriate measures. 

By addressing the immediate causes, such as improper shoe fit or running on hard surfaces, and implementing simple adjustments like a sock lift, you can reduce pain and continue training.

Incorporating strength exercises and gradually adapting to new running conditions will further help in preventing recurrence. 

Making sure you do the correct strength training is important. The good news is we’ve created a free strength training plan for runners that you can download by clicking here.

Always listen to your body and seek professional advice if needed to ensure a swift and safe recovery.


With a passion for high performance sport – Lindsey Parry is one of South Africa’s most widely recognised coaches. Having led a team to the London, Rio and Tokyo Olympic Games as well as the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, the Gold Coast & Birmingham, and coached both triathletes and runners onto podiums of some of the world’s most illustrious races, Lindsey has a unique ability to understand what it takes to succeed at any level and thrives on coaching, motivating and inspiring others to do the same – whether it’s on the track, on stage or behind a mic.

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