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Outdoor First Aid

Treating Achilles Tendinitis

Hikes with a lot of elevation gain and loss are prime for getting tendinitis in the Achilles tendon.

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Hikes with a lot of elevation gain and loss are prime for getting tendinitis in the Achilles tendon. Wearing broken-down boots that provide no support also increases your risk of developing tendinitis.

Tendinitis in the Achilles is characterized by intense, stabbing pain that runs from the heel up the back of your leg. The pain often subsides when you stop, but rages on the trail.

It’s tough to apply the standard treatment, RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation), when there still are miles to go, but you can get some relief on the trail:

  • Place a pad (use gauze, a piece of closed-cell sleeping pad, or a folded cloth) inside your boot, beneath your heel.
  • To relieve pressure from your boots, tape two 6-by-1-inch cushioning pads (strips of a foam sleeping pad work well) along both sides of the Achilles. Don’t put pressure on the tendon itself with the pads.
  • Lace boots loosely when hiking, then snug them down for uphill climbs.

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