San Francisco Podiatry Video


Saturday, December 19, 2009

McGlone's Kona Return after Achilles Injury Today on NBC

A minor ache in the back of the leg down near the heel may just seem like a minor annoyance at first. But if ignored for too long, Achilles tendonitis can keep you from running and cycling for months.

This is precisely what happened to Ironman 70.3 Champion Samantha McGlone. In 2007, the fiercely competitive former Olympian showed up in Kona and finished second in the Ironman World Championships, just minutes behind Chrissie Wellington. But a year later, she found herself sitting on the sidelines recovering from an Achilles tendon injury. Reportedly she spent about 6 months with no running or cycling at all. She struggled with the problem for nearly a year and a half.

Runners and triathletes are particularly susceptible to Achilles tendon problems. In part, this is because they are so determined to set goals and stay on track with training. But whether you are a marathon runner, an age-group triathlete, or someone chasing an Ironman World Championship, it can be hard to back off just because you have a little pain in the back of the heel.

Achilles tendonitis is really nothing more than inflammation within the Achilles tendon. Usually, the pain and swelling is in an area just above the tendon's attachment to the heel bone. This is an area known to be prone to injury due to decrease blood flow to this part of the tendon.

Inflammation in the Achilles' tendon is usually short lived. However, if you continue to run with Achilles pain, the tendonitis turns into tendonosis. This is what happened to McGlone.

Tendonosis is a degenerative condition where chonic inflammation essentially breaks down the collagen in the Achilles fibers. It gets mushy and weak. Many times surgery is required to clean out the tendon. Physical therapy can help speed healing. But, as Maglone learned, it won't just go away on its own. You have to see a sports medicine focused foot and ankle surgeon to get better.

Fortunately Sam is back in action. And today on NBC, we can all watch her chasing an Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. Although her recovery has been longer than the Queen K Highway on a hot windy day, she will surely show her fire and determination as she takes on the challenge on the Big Island.

Dr. Christopher Segler is a multiple Ironman Finisher and award winning foot and ankle surgeon. He lives and trains in the San Francisco Bay Area. To learn more about Achilles tendonitis, runner’s heel pain, stress fractures, bunions and other common causes of foot pain, visit or .

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