Achilles Tendon Issues - Chi Running

Achilles Tendon Issues

Posted by Danny Dreyer on Wed Jan 9th, 2008, 10 comments

If you’re experiencing achilles tendon pain, I suggest you look at how you’re using that tendon. It usually means you’re toeing off or somehow supporting your body weight with your forefoot. If you’re experiencing any sort of pain, you should not be doing interval or hard workouts. So, if you start a workout with any pain at all, the pain will increase in the course of the workout unless you change the biomechanics of what you are doing.

Adding speed to a workout while there is Achilles pain is going to cause more problems. You need to solve the problem at slower speeds first. Any acceleration in speed needs to come from an increase in lean amount and an increased rotation of the pelvis, not an increase in the push of the leg or foot. Another cause of Achilles tendonitis is having too long of a stride length, which also places too much burden onto the forefoot. As you increase in mileage, be careful that your stride doesn’t get longer as you become tired. During your leg swing, you should only see your legs as swinging to the rear. Never think of lifting your legs forward as you run or you’ll engage that Achilles tendon.

Cheers – Danny



  • running injuries,
  • achilles tendon

10 CommentsLeave a comment below

J. McNaught Feb 3rd, 2008 03:23pm

Danny, do you have any further comments on this problem for walkers or are the mechanics the same?  I have been experimenting with the chi walking principles, and they have been helpful, but it seems a long slow repair job for my achilles tendons, and I can’t go past 1hr walks or spend too long walking on the beach.

Helen Shekerjian Apr 3rd, 2008 12:14am

At work I stand. It seems when I’m on the tile my ankles and achilles are fine. If i stand on the releif matt I end up with a sore achilles. Perhaps over the course of the day…my spine grows tired and I end up like a wet noodle.I know if a find a corner or peice of the Wall to learn against. I reinforce my strait spine. I know I need to take breaks and realign. I know in class we stopped and took breaks, did our grounding stance, gathered energy and realigned ourselves before moving on. I need to practice taking breaks and getting realigned.

jeff sorenson Apr 3rd, 2008 02:48pm

I’ve been experiencing achilles tendon pain for over 1 yr and nothing seems to work. Any suggestions - I’ve taken time off for over 4 months - no running - had orthotics made, but it just comes back. Do you know anything about the Newton shoes?

mike danenberg Apr 8th, 2008 11:04pm

Be careful with the Newtons!  They are a light weight shoe but not for everyone.  I have had a dozen or so patients who have developed Morton’s Neurom.  It seems since you land more on the ball of the foot with these that it spreads the metatarsals putting stress and preasure on the nerves.  On the other hand, I have a few patients that love them.  If you are a mid-foot striker and you start landing on the ball of your foot, you will eccentricly be loading the achilles. This can exacerbate tendonitis.

For me, combining the forward lean and the midfoot landing produces a flexed foot and tensioned achilles. I have not found a way to completely eliminate a push off. I try to pull my foot away from the ground with it as limp as I can, but seem unable to prevent irritating my achilles. Any suggestions?


If you don’t support your weight with the mid-foot, where else are you supporting it? I’m a little confused with your comment above. Can you elaborate? I have alot of pain in the achilles, but if I’m landing on the mid-foot, that the only area where my weight will be distributed.


HI Andrew,
I’ve thought for a long time that midfoot strike should be changed to fullfoot strike so as to not cause the same confusion you have experienced in the description. When you land on your fullfoot, the ball and heel of your foot are simultaneously touching as you land. If you’re experiencing achilles tendonitis you’re using too much of your forefoot as you run. ChiRunning is all about relaxing everything below the knee as much as possible throughout your stride phase.

Vancouver Orthotics Feb 11th, 2011 02:08pm

Great information, thanks for sharing!

Dr. Michael Horowitz, Vancouver Orthotics

I started doing some pretty aggressive hill runs a few weeks ago.  My achilles (or the area just above my heel, and below my calf) are killing me.  I took a week off, and did a LSD on a gentle, mostly flat route, and its back.  Any suggestions?

Danny Dreyer Jun 24th, 2011 09:13am

Hi Patrick,

When you were running hills aggressively were they very steep and were you implementing the non-runnable technique that we teach in the book? If not, check out pages 177-180 in the book. Since you’re achilles are bothering you, I would guess that you were probably running at the hill and your calves were highly engaged. Also, are you new to the Chi Running form? Sometimes, people lean too much at first and their calves and achilles get very sore. I would recommend taking some time off, maybe another week or two. Practice Chi Walking. The harder you push it, the worse it will get. Then when you get back to running, adjust your lean so that it’s only 1 inch in 1st gear, 2 inches in 2nd gear, and 3 inches in 4th gear.  Also, watch your stride length - keep it short and let it lengthen out behind you. Relax those lower legs. Make sure to do Body Looseners before your runs, and after you finish running stretch your legs. Search the site for some blogs, tips and articles about hill running and also search the forum for more achilles tips from other runners. Hope this has helped some. Good luck, Patrick.

Hi, I was about to start to train and take classe(s) but just found out that I have a partially torn Achillies and will need to get the tendon reconstructed.  Prior to the lately I was a heel striker and trying to run more biomechanically correct.  I am also slow and would not mind increasing my speed.  I’m not looking to run a 23 minute 5k or run 8 minute miles in a half marathon but would like to improve better than 10 min 5k or 12 min half avg.

My question is during my recovery, when it is allowable, is it better to learn chi walking then chi running OR just work on chi running.

I guess I’ll be able to start with light training in about 4 months from now.

Thank you!

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