Achilles' tendon injuries

  • Home
  • Achilles' tendon injuries
8 replies [Last post]
Anonymous's picture

Does anyone have any experience of a cycling-related tendonitis injury in the Achilles’ tendon? If so, what should I do, or not do? I have an appointment to see my doctor tomorrow afternoon, which was the earliest I could get, to get it checked out.

I sustained the injury on Friday, on the second day of riding a long distance. I had ridden 114 miles the day before and on Friday morning, I felt a very slight twinge as I started to ride and thought nothing of it and proceeded to clock up another 60 miles before treacherous weather made me throw in the towel.

Before I rode last Thursday, I changed the position of my Look cleats, pushing them as far forward as they would go. They had been close to the limit before hand and I had ridden that position for several years. I thought it would give me a more efficient pedal stroke, especially upstroke. With the benefit of hindsight, I should have a) taken advice on this and b) done some short test rides before embarking on a major long distance trip.

I suspect the altered cleat position has been the cause of the injury as I have done several back-to-back centuries in the past, including one trip where I clocked up an average of 160 miles a day for five straight days, without any problem at all, apart from a touch of saddle soreness on Day 5.

I was unaware that I had really sustained an injury at all until I eventually got off the bike and started walking around and discovered that I was in some discomfort and did not have full movement. Walking seemed to make it worse and stairs especially. Within a couple of hours, the tendon had swollen and I began to worry as a friend of mine ruptured her Achilles' tendon 18 months ago in a dance class, and it went without warning. I was particularly concerned at feeling a ‘creaking’ sensation when I moved the tendon, or tried to walk. Pain was only evident when I put weight on it or tried to walk.

Given that I was not in agony and could hobble around, and after comparing symptoms with my friend, I was confident that I had tendonitis, as opposed to a complete rupture and applied ice packs and took ibuprofen. The swelling started to ease around 30 hours later and has continued to improve since, although it is still somewhat tender. The ‘creaking’ has now stopped and I have had full movement since Sunday afternoon and there is no visible sign of swelling. I have not been back on the bike since Friday, but I have restored the cleats to their previous position. I encountered no problem with my left leg or Achilles tendon on the ride.

No adjustments to the bike, or to the saddle height or position have been made, and the height of the saddle has been the same for the last five years, since I’ve had the bike. There has been no change of handle bar stem, or angle of handlebars in that time. And there has been no change to the pedal cranks, the length of which was recommended from my BioRacer fitting. I was measured on a BioRacer system when I bought the bike. There has also been no change to the pedal adjustments. And these are the original pedals I bought with the bike. Some may think that BioRacer is not the best fitting system, but it has served me well on this bike for the last five years.

I have never had an injury like this before and have been using Look cleats without a problem for the last five years.

I am hoping my doctor will be able to tell me just what I have done, or refer me to someone who can. I am concerned that I may have structurally weakened the tendon and run the risk of a rupture if I continue to cycle.

Any constructive advice would be welcome.

Thanks in advance!

Anonymous's picture
JP (not verified)

I had a similar circumstance in February. My right AT hurt. Not so much when I cycled (but a bit), but when I did, say, a toe-touch stretch. For treatment, I would sit on a mat, and gently stretch and find just what hurt and what stretch hurt. I just ever so gently stretched that point. My main treatment was hot-cold-hot-cold showers with a shower-massager. The alternating heat and cold contracts and then relaxes the AT and helps it out alot. After 4-5 days, it was much better. I mentioned it to my doc a few weeks later and he said just to watch it.

I hurt mine in February when I was just starting my heavier interval training. I was concentrating on form - esp my pull-up. I believe ccycling requires full physical fitness. If you have a weak-spot, it will hurt. My wrists used to hurt. Then it was my shoulders, then my back, then my AT. Now, my neck gets a little sore. Pain finds your weakness and that's what hurt me.

Good luck.

Anonymous's picture
"Chainwheel" (not verified)
Move the cleats back

"Having your cleats too far forward is a classic cause of this problem.



Anonymous's picture
Yogi (not verified)
Put – The – Candle – Bach !

>I changed the position of my Look cleats, pushing them as far forward as they would go.

Not a good idea. Moving the cleat forward slides the foot back relative to the axle of the pedal (you want to keep the axle spindle under the ball of your foot). This put extra strain on your calf muscle and tendon on the down stroke as well as the upstroke. If you still want to play with your pedal position after it heals, slide the seat back a few mm (for a better spin) You might have to lower the seat a hair, as you’re changing your reach also. In general, you can’t change one thing without affecting everything else.

>I am concerned that I may have structurally weakened the tendon and run the risk of a rupture if I continue to cycle.

Usually AT rupture occur during explosive movements associated with leaping. The sudden forceful contraction of the calf muscle tears the tendon. It happens more often in activities like basketball and sprints on foot.

Stretch and message your calf as well as the tendon!

–Good Luck

Anonymous's picture
Etoain Shrdlu (not verified)
The curse is working!

Never monkey around with a Shrdlu. And especially not with Etoain Shrdlu.

Some weeks ago, I cursed the bicycles, and various bicycle components, of those who had excoriated me for daring to suggest that public parks belong to the public, not to Chase Manhattan Bank and the New York Road Runners.

Among those who flayed hardest was Anthony, a recent arrival from the British Isles, who took an attitude reflecting the notion that the United States is still a British Colony, and we Britain’s puppets, instead of the other way around. (If you doubt that it’s the other way around, take a close look at the current British Prime Minister.)

But I digress. Anthony’s lesson in Democracy to all of us was that those who pay the most for the upkeep of the park have the greatest right to use the park, and that if I wanted to ride around the periphery road, I had better well pay somebody for that right. And what of supporting the park through income taxes, the only fair way to support any great public purpose?

Anthony had nothing to contribute about that.

And so, he was among those whose bicycles I cursed. If you will recall, I cursed his cleats as well.

Now obviously, I could not call upon his cleats via supernatural means to harm his Achilles tendon. No, but it was not necessary. My curse enabled Anthony to curse himself. It is like John Updike’s story of the Appointment in Samara: A man saw death in the marketplace in Baghdad, glaring at him. So he fled, by the fastest means possible, to Samarra. The next morning, Death sneaked up behind the man and placed his bony hand on the man’s shoulder. “I surrender,” said the man, “I knew I was finished when I saw you yesterday in Baghdad, glaring at me.” But Death replied, “I wasn’t glaring at you. I was simply amazed to see you yesterday in Baghdad, because I had an appointment with you this morning in Samara.”

Which brings me back to Anthony. Anthony cursed his own cleats, by moving them after he had paid, but his own admission, to have his bicycle personally engineered to him. The same British arrogance that orders me to pay up for the use of the park regardless of my income, ordered him to mess with his own cleats, contrary to the advice of bicycle engineering professionals, thus bringing down my curse upon his head. Or heel, in this case.

Thus works the powerful Curse of Shrdlu. It is a mystical curse and yet an unmysterious curse. A powerful curse, and yet a self-inflicted curse. An evil curse, and yet a delightful curse.

Oh, did I mention the pain in the ass Tom Lasky is getting over the club bulletin. Remember, I cursed his saddle. The curse is working! O joy, the curse is working!

Anonymous's picture
Anthony Poole (not verified)
What utter bollocks!

But I'd expect nothing more from a fake like you.

Anonymous's picture
Bill Vojtech (not verified)
Curses smirshes I am a non-believer!

"I don't know if your name is real or phony, but your political inconsistency is showing! In previous posts you call yourself a Libertarian, yet here you are singing the praises of INCOME TAX! No Libertarian I know of would call income tax ""fair"", (or any tax for that matter)! User fees are the way to go."

Anonymous's picture
Claudia Kaplan (not verified)
achilles tendonitis from cleats too far forward

I'll chime in also to agree that your problem was caused by having your cleats too far forward. I rode 105 miles one day a couple of years ago with my cleats all the way forward and had a bad relapse of achilles tendonitis that had not troubled me for a year. I couldn't walk for a few days after this and had to return to physical therapy for a couple of months.

Anonymous's picture
Anthony Poole (not verified)
Thanks for the advise

Many thanks for the helpful comments I've received, both on the message board and privately by e-mail.

I saw my doctor yesterday who referred me to an orthapedic specialist and his first available appointment is not until 4 September. Not sure what I can do about that, other than see if anyone else in that practice can see me before them.

As for that fake imposter, 'Etoain Shrdlu' with all of his curses and bogus identity, I have one thing to say. Perhaps when you learn to ride your bicycle without your Shimano Dura Ace training wheels, you will have enough courage to leave the park. With any luck, you will get mowed down by a celebrity news anchor driving a very large and heavy Cadillac at excessive speed.

cycling trips