Monday, September 1, 2014

Choose Boots Wisely To Prevent Achilles Tendon Injuries

Boots and other high-topped shoes should follow
the gentle arc of the Achilles tendon.

Achilles Tendon problems have plagued me since college.

Stretching, strengthening and gradually increasing  training distances (especially hills) has helped prevent or minimize injuries. I've done several marathons, half-marathons and a lot of mountaineering in the Sierra without problems.

But at the beginning of Sierra backpacking season in 2013, my old  Columbia boots finally fell apart after about a decade of hard use. Columbia no longer makes that boot style. And I found their new styles not rugged or supportive enough for a 50-pound pack in the mountains.

My search since then took me through five pairs of other boots. The first four produced Achilles tendon pain and swelling. Images of numbers 3-5, are discussed below.

No amount of training helped me with the first four pairs of new boots. And the pain vanished when I didn't wear the books. Long distance runs and extreme slope trail running (with pack) were all fine as long as I wore my running shoes.


With help from the web and several podiatrists, boot number five solved the problem.

Take a look at the illustration of the foot, above. A proper fit in a boot would be for the high top to follow the gradual curve at the back, parallelling the Achilles tendon.

Gradual curve, not extreme like the first two boots, below.
Asolo boots. Extreme angle pressed into Achilles tendon.
Solomon boots. Lower cut, but still too much of an angle in. Also pressed on Achilles tendon.

Vasque boots. Gentle angle. Did not press on Achilles tendon.
The Vasques performed fantastically on their first outing this year, to the California Matterhorn in the Eastern Sierras. I'm currently repairing the scrape and cut damage to them done by clambering over a vicious sharp granite boulder field. But no complaints about the boots.

Note: all photos were taken from the same angle and distance. A square was used to position all the boots the same.


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  2. The Vasques performed phenomenally on their first excursion this year, to the California Matterhorn in the Eastern Sierras. I'm at present repairing the scratch and slice harm to them done by climbing over an awful sharp rock stone field. Be that as it may, no protests about the boots.
    Sandra J. Hughes

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