Best Running Shoes For Achilles Tendonitis in 2024

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Running with Achilles pain is terrible. But there’s good news—if you invest in a pair of the best running shoes for Achilles tendonitis and take steps to reduce inflammation, you’ll be on your feet as soon as you heal.

It all begins with the footwear. Runners with Achilles tendonitis will need a shoe with a high heel-to-toe drop, excellent ankle and heel support, and the right arch support for their foot.

Our top pick is the Mizuno Wave Rider 26. This shoe features a high heel-to-toe drop that should help with Achilles pain. Plus, it’s lightweight and well-cushioned. It’s a great everyday trainer for all levels of runners.

Here’s our full list of the best running shoes for Achilles tendonitis—find your favorite!


Top 3 Best and Favorites

 

Mizuno Wave Rider 26

 

  • Lightweight and cushioned
  • High-drop shoe
  • Snappy ride
See MEN’S PRICESee WOMEN’S PRICE

 

ASICS Gel-Cumulus 25

 

  • FF Blast+ foam
  • PureGEL cushioning
  • 8 mm heel-to-toe drop
See MEN’S PRICESee WOMEN’S PRICE

 

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 23

 

  • Guide rails for support
  • Wide toe box
  • Extremely comfortable
See MEN’S PRICESee WOMEN’S PRICE

Supportive Neutral Shoes

Best Overall Neutral Shoe

1. Mizuno Wave Rider 26

If you’ve got a neutral foot, the Mizuno Wave Rider 26 is our top choice. It’s surprisingly supportive for a neutral shoe with a classic 12 mm heel drop to take the stress off the tendon. Plus, it has other features that make it a great daily trainer.

What We Like

This shoe is an excellent all-rounder when it comes to Achilles problems. Much of its strong stability comes from the Wave Plate in the midsole, which prevents twisting of the sole.

It features good arch support for medium arches, and the plate creates an easy heel-to-toe transition. This is helped quite a lot by the high heel drop—at 12 mm, it’s considered old-fashioned, but this is effective at reducing the load on your Achilles tendon, so it gets a thumbs-up from us!

Another thing we appreciate is the sturdy heel counter. It locks the foot into place comfortably without feeling restrictive but removes strain from the Achilles quite well throughout your stride.

As for shock absorption, ENERZY foam in the midsole does its job well. It’s not exactly soft—instead, it works with the plate to absorb shock and return it as a slight bounce, helping you to run a touch faster for less effort.

Add to that a soft, plush upper with padding around the heel and ankle and a sticky rubber outsole that keeps you safe on several surfaces, and you’ve got a stable, supportive, and comfortable shoe.

Why We Like It

This neutral shoe has everything you need to ease Achilles tendonitis pain. A generous heel drop, strong heel counter, great shock-absorbing cushioning, and a good combination of cushioning and support are all you need to run with less pain.

What to Consider

The midsole is fairly stiff, thanks to the plastic wave plate. While this does have its advantages, it also makes the shoe a little too stiff for some runners to enjoy running in.

What’s New

The latest version of the Wave Rider has a few extra mm cushioning in the middle, increasing the weight by just a fraction. Everything else has stayed the same, so fans of the previous version will like this one.

PROS:

  • Versatile daily trainer offers an excellent balance of cushioning and support
  • 12 mm heel-to-toe drop reduces the stress placed on the Achilles tendon
  • Slightly firm midsole cushioning absorbs shock and provides a good amount of energy return
  • Built-up heel counter reduces lateral movement, decreasing the load on the Achilles tendon

CONS:

  • Some runners may feel that the midsole is a little too stiff for their liking
 

Top Neutral Shoe for Heel Support

2. ASICS Gel-Cumulus 25

The ASICS Gel-Cumulus has plenty to love. Exceptional heel support and cushioning protects the Achilles, while a decent 8 mm drop successfully alleviates strain on the tendon. Excellent for heel strikers.

What We Like

If heel support is what you need, the ASICS Gel-Cumulus 25 will give it to you. First, you’ll find 37.5 mm of cushion in the heel, which does a lot to absorb shock every time your foot lands.

PureGEL cushioning underneath the heel absorbs vibration and protects the Achilles from more damage. This is paired with FF Blast+ in the forefoot and on top of the gel, which doubles the shock-absorption effect,

Second, the heel is broad and flat, with a significant heel bevel that makes the entire heel-to-toe transition more stable. There’s no visible heel counter, but the shoe is tough around the heel, safely keeping your foot in place.

It features a less conventional but effective 8 mm drop, still high enough to reduce strain on the Achilles. A rubber outsole keeps you steady on your feet throughout your run, eliminating the chance of slipping and hurting the tendon.

Why We Like It

A soft, cushioned ride makes this shoe comfortable but also effective at alleviating strain on the Achilles tendon. The 8 mm drop isn’t drastic but helps to lower the load on the tendon.

But the biggest draw here is the heel—super shock-absorbing and firmly stable, it successfully reduces movement that could aggravate the tendon.

What to Consider

While plush and comfortable, the upper may run quite warm in hot weather. It’ll keep you toasty in winter, but your feet may not be able to breathe in the heat of summer. It won’t be a deal-breaker for everyone, but it’s worth noting.

What’s New

The new Cumulus has received several updates. You get an extra 2 mm of foam in the midsole, which is also now lighter and softer than before.

Plus, the upper is now made of more than 90 percent recycled materials. There’s also a useful pull-tab at the heel, which is a nice addition considering the strong, cupping heel support.

PROS:

  • The upper is made from soft, supportive mesh that holds your foot securely in place
  • Thick layer of FF Blast+ foam provides a comfortable, supportive ride while absorbing the impact of your foot strike
  • PureGEL cushioning in the rear of the shoe adds an extra layer of protection in the heel, minimizing strain on the tendon
  • 8 mm heel-to-toe drop is effective at reducing the load on the tendon

CONS:

  • This shoe may run quite warm in hot weather
 

Most Comfortable

3. Brooks Ghost 15

The brand’s most cushioned shoe doesn’t disappoint, and those who need an Achilles-friendly shoe will appreciate its features. Stable, locked-in, cushioned, and plush, it’s comfortable and protective at the same time.

What We Like

Soft, comfortable DNA Loft v2 foam spans the length of this shoe. It’s wonderfully shock-absorbing, effectively reducing the effect of impact vibrations on the Achilles.

The reason for this foam’s comfort is its design. Light, compressible rubber infused with air and nitrogen bubbles creates a soft, fluffy feeling with excellent compressibility.

It’s still firm enough to support your feet, which keeps them aligned and reduces unnecessary ankle movement. A segmented crash pad on the outsole adds a touch more impact absorption.

The midsole isn’t the only part of the shoe that’s plush. A soft, engineered mesh upper wraps around the foot like a hug, using 3D Fit Print tech to create an almost customized lockdown.

Why We Like It

The Brooks Ghost 15 is one of the brand’s most popular models. It’s plush but still manages to lock the heel in nicely. It also absorbs shock and offers a perfect 12 mm heel drop for taking pressure off those tendons.

What to Consider

The lack of a gusseted tongue might be an annoyance to some. While it can be alleviated by lacing your shoes more effectively, it might still be a no-go for some.

What’s New

The only really significant change to this version of the shoe is the midsole foam. It now boasts a full-length slab of DNA Loft v2 foam, which is lighter and more responsive than the previous foam.

PROS:

  • Good balance of cushioning, arch support, and heel support reduce tension in the Achilles tendon
  • Breathable mesh upper uses 3D Fit Print technology, providing structural support with a bit of flexibility
  • DNA Loft v2 midsole foam is lighter but still puts a spring in your step while offering the support you need
  • Segmented crash pad helps with shock absorption and offers smooth heel-to-toe transitions

CONS:

  • Non-gusseted tongue might be annoying to some
 

Best Saucony Shoe

4. Saucony Ride 16

Saucony fans with Achilles tendonitis can choose this shoe happily, knowing it provides all they need for safe, comfortable running. It’s a well-cushioned offering from the brand, with a great heel drop and a locked-in feeling.

What We Like

One of the best things about Saucony shoes is that they tend to have a wide base, which adds inherent stability to the shoe. This one is no different, and a notable heel bevel helps to create a nice heel-to-toe transition to help you keep the pace.

A thick-cushioned chunk of PWRRUN midsole foam takes on shock very well, returning it nicely for a bit of a spring in your step. An 8 mm drop is pretty good for reducing Achilles activation, improving pain noticeably.

While the heel locks the foot nicely, the forefoot remains fairly flexible. This increases the range of motion of the foot, effectively improving your stride and naturally removing strain on certain parts of the foot.

Why We Like It

The shoe is a true Saucony, so fans will like the fit and feel of it. It does a great job of holding the foot stable in the shoe, supporting you from underneath, and absorbing shock. Great choice to alleviate Achilles pain.

What to Consider

The outsole is adequate for the road but might not handle wet surfaces or rougher terrain like gravel or rough paths well. Think about where you’d like to take this shoe before investing in a pair!

What’s New

The Saucony Ride 16 has lost about half an ounce of weight despite a higher stack height, plus its midsole manages to be both softer and more responsive. A revamped upper and outsole add to the luxurious feeling of the shoe.

PROS:

  • Engineered mesh is lightweight, breathable, and hugs your foot
  • PWRRUN midsole foam is firm but feels soft underfoot with a good amount of responsiveness
  • A slightly more flexible forefoot allows for a comfortable and efficient stride which can reduce strain on the Achilles tendon
  • Generous heel bevel helps to reduce the amount of stress placed on the Achilles tendon and encourages a smooth heel-to-toe transition

CONS:

  • Might not handle wet surfaces or rougher terrain
 

Top Nike Shoe

5. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 40

The Pegasus is one of Nike’s most loved shoes, as you can tell by how many versions it’s had! It’s as beautiful as previous models and can help alleviate Achilles pain while looking super stylish.

What We Like

Nike doesn’t often disappoint, and the Pegasus 40 performs just as expected. Let’s start with the midsole, probably the most important feature for Achilles tendonitis.

An amazing combination of Nike React foam and Zoom Air units in the heel offer ample cushioning in the shoe. This does a brilliant job of alleviating strain on the Achilles as a result of impact, so you can already count on less pain.

A heel drop of 10 mm falls right in the perfect zone for taking a load off the back of the foot. 33 mm in the heel and 23 mm in the forefoot offer more than enough padding in all the necessary places.

Surprisingly, there’s also a fairly stiff heel counter, which reduces any movement in the rearfoot that could place stress on the Achilles. A redesigned midfoot band also allows you to get a really good lockdown on the foot.

We’re also fans of the robust outsole, especially in the forefoot. It’s grippy and effective, reducing your chance of aggravating the tendon by slipping or sliding.

Why We Like It

Between the great cushioning combination, the comfortable drop, and the easy-lockdown heel counter, your Achilles tendon should feel much less painful when running in these shoes. Plus, they’re sleek!

What to Consider

Fans of the Pegasus will note that this shoe feels the same as the 39. With a $20 price increase, it might be hard to justify buying the new version unless you’re a true fan!

What’s New

There are only minor changes to the upper in this version. The midfoot band has been tightened up a touch and the upper has been slightly tweaked for better breathability and comfort.

PROS:

  • Versatile daily trainer that can pick up the pace and go from the road to mild trails with ease
  • Engineered mesh upper is wider in the forefoot but fits snug in the midfoot and heel, providing a secure, locked-in feel
  • Firm React foam combined with Zoom units in the heel and forefoot provides ample cushioning with excellent shock absorption
  • Moderately stiff heel counter offers stability by reducing rear foot movements which could strain the Achilles tendon

CONS:

  • No major improvements over the previous version
 

Stability Running Shoes

Best Stability Shoe

6. Brooks Adrenaline GTS 23

If you’re an overpronator, the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 23 will be a good choice to reduce Achilles pain. It’s an unobtrusive stability shoe, but perfect for stabilizing the tendon and easing pain.

What We Like

In addition to a stable heel counter, the built-in GuideRails significantly reduce rearfoot movement and inward rolling, stabilizing the Achilles extremely well.

In the midfoot, a slab of supportive, cushioned DNA Loft foam takes on shock and minimizes the effect of vibrations on the tendon. A great 12 mm drop takes a lot of force off the tendon, so this is a big bonus.

Grippy rubber underfoot stops you from tweaking your tendon accidentally by slipping. Flex grooves in the front of the shoe also make the forefoot more flexible, increasing your range of motion.

3D Fit Print tech in the upper makes it sleek but with a touch more room in the forefoot, increasing both the fit and the comfort.

Why We Like It

Brooks’ GuideRails are a great system that adds extra stability to the shoe without being intrusive. We love that this shoe, while technically a stability shoe, can also be easily worn by neutral runners. Plus, the cushioning, heel counter, and impact absorption make it a great choice for Achilles problems.

What to Consider

Expect to spend a week or two getting used to these shoes if you haven’t run in them before. If you have patience, they’ll be a great pair of shoes, but this could be a deal-breaker for some runners.

What’s New

Where the previous shoe had two types of foam, this one only has DNA LOFT. The 3D Fit Print technology in the upper has also been improved.

PROS:

  • The mesh upper features 3D Fit Print Technology provides a performance fit but with roomy toe box
  • DNA LOFT cushioning is supportive, absorbs impact forces, and cushions your landings
  • GuideRail technology helps to gently control excessive inward rolling of the foot and reduces stress on the Achilles tendon
  • A sturdy heel counter hugs the back of your foot and stabilizes the heel by reducing excessive movement

CONS:

  • These shoes may need a week or two to break in
 

Top Stability Shoe for Heel Support

7. ASICS GT-2000 11

The ASICS GT-2000 11 is exceptionally stable, with much of it coming from the fantastic heel support. But it’s also wonderfully cushioned and a great choice to reduce Achilles pain.

What We Like

One of the best things about this shoe is its sturdy heel counter. Visible from the outside, this hard piece of the shoe effectively cups your foot, stopping any hint of lateral movement in the rearfoot that could potentially hurt your tendon.

The cushioning in this shoe is also amazing. FF blast foam in the forefoot paired with Gel technology on the rear offers the best combination of shock-absorption that you’ll find in a shoe.

Overpronators will be glad for the built-in Litetruss system, which stops the foot from rolling. This is great news, as the roll can place a significant amount of strain on the Achilles.

A beveled heel, forefoot rocker, and 3D Space Construction work together to smooth the transition over. An 8 mm drop is not bad at all for Achilles problems.

Why We Like It

This shoe provides wonderful support between the stable heel counter, the exceptional cushioning, stability features, and a rocker. It’s well worth trying for Achilles tendonitis as it’s also extremely comfortable.

What to Consider

These shoes are known to run a little small. Go up half a size if possible, or try them on in a store to see if your usual size fits.

What’s New

This version of the shoe features FF Blast foam, making it more padded and a little more responsive than it used to be. It has an extra mm of foam, and the upper now includes recycled materials.

PROS:

  • Stocky heel counter locks your foot in place, limiting movement that could aggravate an inflamed Achilles
  • LITETRUSS technology helps control overpronation and reduces the amount of strain on the Achilles
  • Forefoot rocker with a bit of toe spring reduces pressure on the forefoot and encourages smooth transitions
  • Flytefoam Blast combined with rearfoot GEL technology provides a protective but responsive ride

CONS:

  • This shoe tends to run a half-size small, so go for a half-size larger than usual
 

Best Lightweight Stability

8. Mizuno Wave Inspire 19

Stability shoes tend to be clunky, but not the Mizuno Wave Inspire 19. While it’s still heavy compared to neutral shoes, it’s lightweight compared to other stability shoes. Plus, it’s got features that work well for those with Achilles issues.

What We Like

The Wave Plate in this shoe improves its stability by quite a lot. While it’s technically not a traditional stability shoe, it does add inherent stability to every step. For a “stability shoe” it’s also unusually lightweight.

The plate prevents lateral torsion, which means there’ll be no twisting of the foot that could damage the tendon. But it also serves a similar purpose to a carbon plate, providing extra spring and protecting the underside of the foot.

ENERZY foam surrounds the plate, giving you a soft, impact-absorbing feeling on every step. Great for both speeding up and protecting the foot and ankle from jarring.

Add a 12 mm heel-to-toe drop and a nice pop of forefoot stability for a great toe-off, and you’ve got a good shoe for stable, pain-free running.

Why We Like It

This shoe is lightweight but still has great features for protecting a sore Achilles. We appreciate the classic 12 mm drop, stable Wave Plate, and soft, shock-absorbing midsole foam.

What to Consider

This shoe is light for a stability shoe. However, it’s still on the heavy side in general. You may want to consider a stable neutral shoe if it’s too heavy for you and you can get away with a little less support.

What’s New

Only minor changes were made to this shoe. The Wave Plate was redesigned for extra stability, and extra foam was added around the plate for softness.

PROS:

  • 12 mm heel-to-toe drop reduces the amount of strain placed on the Achilles as well alleviating tight calves
  • Supportive layer of ENERZY foam offers a good amount of energy return and provides a smoother ride
  • Redesigned signature Wave Plate is firm while providing stability, and helps absorb shock and cushion your landings
  • Lighter than many other stability shoes, with the potential for increased speed and comfort

CONS:

  • Still a little heavy in comparison to others
 

Top Nike Stability

9. Nike Zoom Structure 24

Technically, Nike themselves call this shoe a “supportive neutral trainer.” But it has features to adequately support mild overpronation, which is all you might need to eliminate pain in your Achilles tendon.

What We Like

It might not be a true stability shoe, but the Nike Zoom Structure offers enough stability and structural support for those who overpronate mildly. Technically there are no stability-specific features, but the shoe provides excellent support.

A heel counter is the most robust stability feature. It does an excellent job of locking your foot down, and when paired with the plush upper, you can get a really good lockdown. This reduces foot movement, which could cause pain in the tendon.

Underfoot, you’ll find a combination of Nike’s CMP 010 foam and a Zoom Air bag in the front of the midsole. The foam adds a comforting softness to each step, and the Air bag does wonders for absorbing the impact of your every step.

Why We Like It

Mild overpronators and neutral runners who want more support will appreciate this shoe’s light stability. The strong heel counter and shock-absorbing Air bag greatly reduce vibration and excess movement that could cause Achilles trouble.

What to Consider

More severe overpronators probably won’t be able to run comfortably in this shoe. If you need more support for a severe inward roll, this one won’t give you the protection you need.

What’s New

There are only small changes here, mainly aesthetic, but 5 mm of foam have been added to the midsole. That’s the most significant upgrade.

PROS:

  • Supportive neutral design offers light but effective stability and makes this shoe suitable for mild overpronators and neutral runners
  • Nike CMP 010 foam provides softness while a Zoom Air bag in the forefoot takes on shock and protects the foot
  • A strong internal heel counter keeps the foot locked in securely, reducing lateral movement that could cause pain
  • Plush upper and interior help create a great lockdown and make the shoe extremely comfortable

CONS:

  • Won’t be supportive enough for severe overpronators
 

Best for Wide Feet

10. New Balance 990v5

For wide feet, New Balance is the natural option. The 990v5 is an old classic that carries a vintage vibe, but also has excellent structural stability.

What We Like

Runners with wide feet can’t go wrong with New Balance. This particular model has been upgraded to offer a wider yet more comfortable fit, and it still comes in multiple widths so you’re covered.

The shoe features an ENCAP EVA midsole with a PU rim to protect the foot from rolling, alleviating strain on the Achilles. It’s still fairly responsible, which is surprising considering it doesn’t look like an athletic shoe.

Visible TPU “Power Straps” around each heel hold the foot tightly and stop any unnecessary motion that could cause more pain in the rear tendon.

A full-length, grippy rubber outsole is highly effective on several different surfaces, so you can stay safe and confident on your feet no matter where you’re running. It also makes the shoe very durable.

Why We Like It

This shoe looks great and provides excellent support for overpronators. It’s also the ideal choice for wide feet. A sturdy heel counter and stability system make it great for relieving Achilles pain and taking pressure off the tendon.

What to Consider

This old classic sits at around 11 ounces in weight. For some, this is too heavy for comfort to run in. But it comes down to personal preference!

What’s New

There are a few small changes to the newest version of this shoe. It features a wider fit, an extra-cushioned heel, increased breathability, a slightly softer midsole, and more aggressive outsole tread.

PROS:

  • Classic New Balance retro design without sacrificing stability, plus a new wider fit
  • Dual-density ENCAP midsole offers comfort and support, as well as providing great support for flat feet
  • TPU power straps provide excellent heel stability and hold your foot exactly in the right position to keep it safe
  • The durable rubber outsole offers great traction and long-lasting protection against shock

CONS:

  • This shoe is slightly heavy at over 11 ounces
 

Buyer’s Guide – Running Shoes for Achilles Tendonitis

Need shoes to support your feet and reduce the effects of Achilles tendonitis? Here’s what you should be looking for in a pair of running shoes.

Heel-to-Toe Drop

A higher heel-to-toe drop reduces the load on the Achilles tendon. This might seem like a small feature, but it can significantly affect your pain. Choose a shoe with a heel-to-toe drop of 8 to 12 mm.

Support and Stability

The shoe you choose should have excellent support around the ankle and the heel. This will help to reduce unnecessary movement of the foot within the shoe, which can aggravate the painful tendon.

There should also be adequate support under the arch, suited to your foot. If you’re an overpronator, you need a stability shoe. Neutral feet can get away with almost any shoe.

Heel Cushioning

Good cushioning in the rearfoot will significantly reduce shock upon your footstrike. This can help to protect the Achilles tendon from damage by vibrations as the shock of your foot landing travels through the tissues and bones.

Heel Counter

A firm heel counter will lock the foot in place and stop any lateral movement that could tweak the inflamed tendon. It should be sturdy and stop twisting or sliding of the foot, but it shouldn’t cause discomfort or chafing.

FAQs

What causes Achilles tendonitis in runners?

Many runners who frequently run uphill, pivot, slow down, or speed train are prone to injuries such as Achilles tendonitis. In addition, runners who land on their forefoot or toes (i.e. natural or barefoot-style running) are also more likely to suffer from this type of injury.

Can running shoes cause Achilles tendonitis?

Some runners are unaware that running in the wrong pair of shoes can cause Achilles tendonitis, especially if the running shoe is poorly constructed and inflexible. That’s why we believe it’s so important to always wear the best running shoes for Achilles tendonitis.

Whether you are an overpronator or neutral runner, you should consider looking for running shoes with features such as a flexible outsole, springy midsole, high heel-to-toe drop, a wide forefoot, soft interior, and stability control (for overpronators).

Can I keep running with Achilles tendonitis?

Although many runners attempt to run through the pain that is caused by Achilles tendonitis, we wouldn’t advise this course of action. Since this injury results from overusing the tendon, continued running has been repeatedly shown to stress the damaged tendon even more, which ultimately makes the condition worse.

Not to mention that running often increases the swelling around the tendon. The result of this swelling is a tendon that is unable to fully heal. We understand that not being able to exercise can be extremely frustrating, but resting the tendon is the only way that it will heal completely.

What happens if I keep running with Achilles tendonitis?

This is generally not recommended. The problem is that there is little blood flow to the Achilles. This means it’s slow to recover and takes time to heal.

While you may be able to run through it, there is a good chance that you’ll ruin your recovery with just one run. Re-injuring the Achilles will set you back to the beginning and you’ll need to start the entire recovery process all over again.

The Achilles tendon receives almost all the forces exerted while running during the toe-off phase. This makes it susceptible to injury. Your recovery speed is greatly increased if you don’t run with an Achilles injury.

How long should I stop and recover after Achilles tendonitis?

Shutting it down for two weeks is usually recommended. It will still take more time to recover, but you can ease back into running after two weeks off (this is assuming you take it easy coming back and monitor the Achilles for increased pain).

How should runners treat Achilles tendonitis?

There are many conservative treatment options for treating Achilles tendonitis. These at-home treatments include massaging the calves with a foam roller, performing eccentric heel drops and heel lifts, icing after each run, heating before each run, wearing more supportive running shoes, and engaging in ankle strengthening and mobility exercises.

A more aggressive option is Iontophoresis with dexamethasone, which is a prescription treatment offered by physical therapists. The treatment consists of delivering anti-inflammatory steroids into the tendon for pain relief.

Keep in mind that the exercises that you want to avoid are excessive stretching. Make sure that you perform only light and easy stretching until the injury is completely healed.

How do I start running after Achilles tendonitis?

If you have recently recovered from injuring your Achilles tendon, you are probably wondering how to ease back into your regular running routine. While you may be pain-free, this doesn’t mean that you should just jump straight into full-on training. There’s a good chance that if you take this approach you’ll end up back where you started.

Instead of pursuing your training at full speed, consider starting off with a nice slow run for only ten minutes. After you complete your run, wait a day and then evaluate how you feel. If you feel ok and pain-free, you should start building up to your normal exercise routine.

It’s also a great idea to actually write down a training plan. This ensures that you do not overtrain before you’re ready.

How do I prevent Achilles tendonitis while running?

Most of the pain that you experience while running can be solved by preventing Achilles tendonitis in the first place. For most runners, the tendons can be protected by improving their foot strike, form, and ensuring that you are wearing the best running shoes for Achilles tendonitis.

Studies have shown that most sufferers of this condition are heel strikers. These types of runners are usually prone to wear out the sole at the back outside section of the shoe. When this happens, the mid-sole is often compressed.

The ultimate result of a worn-out shoe is a tendon that is overstretched during the heel strike. To solve this problem, heel strikers should focus on improving the overall form of their entire body.

Every runner should train with the proper footwear to absorb the shock and force of the ground. When the correct shoe is not worn, the Achilles tendon will become inflamed and swollen, which will make running virtually impossible.

If you are a heel striker, make sure that you avoid shoes with a high profile. These types of shoes often have a big distance between the heel of the foot and the ground.

Because this style of shoe is over-cushioned and unstable, overstretching and stressing of the Achilles tendon is likely to occur. In most cases, the best type of shoe for runners are those with a low profile. These shoes provide more support and shock absorption to the heel and tendon.

Whenever you want to improve the foot strike, form, and footwear, a professional that specializes in treating runners is always available to help you correct these problems that are often associated with Achilles tendonitis. In this video from Sports Injury Clinic, they also explain why a good pair of running shoes is extremely important to preventing this injury. He also provides you with the types of running shoes that you should consider buying.

Can I change my form or technique to help prevent Achilles tendonitis?

For an efficient and pain-free running, you should make a resolution to improve your overall form. Did you know that the place where the foot strikes the ground is extremely important to preventing Achilles tendonitis?

If you are a heel striker, you may experience less pain if you do not lean forward with the head out in front of the feet while running. According to our research, the best way to prevent Achilles tendonitis is to always run with your chin tucked, shoulders plunged back, and the pelvis slightly forward.

Does barefoot running or minimal running shoes cause Achilles tendonitis?

In the past, many experts were advocating that the minimal running shoes promised a more natural experience, but we have found recent studies that suggest that this assertion couldn’t be further from the truth. Since these shoes are often less structured, research has shown that this type of footwear is synonymous with higher rates of injury such as Achilles tendonitis.

Barefoot running has also been linked to painful injuries like Achilles tendonitis. But if you decide to switch to barefoot running or minimal shoes, you should do so gradually so that your body can adapt appropriately. The result of switching to barefoot running or minimal shoes is often a greater chance of shin and calf pain.

Will inserts or orthotics help with Achilles tendonitis?

Yes, probably. If you buy a quality pair of inserts, 

Inserts will do two things to help runners with Achilles tendonitis. First, it will slightly raise your heel. This effectively adds an artificial higher drop to a shoe, eliminating pressure put on the tendon.

Second, it adds support to an existing pair of running shoes. If your running shoes aren’t supportive enough, adding an insert is a good way to increase support without buying a brand new pair of shoes.

Terms to Know

Drop (or heel-to-toe drop)

The drop on a running shoe refers to how high the heel is compared to the toe. Most running shoes are raised in the heel, so your foot slightly angles down. The difference between how high the heel is vs. the toe is called the drop.

It’s measured in millimeters (mm). A high drop like 12mm means your foot is angled forward and down. A low drop like 4mm means your foot sits flatter to the ground.

For years, most running shoes had a high drop, usually around 12mm. This is still standard is most running shoes. The advantage for running is that if you strike with your heel, which is fairly common with runners, your foot is better cushioned on landing. It also allows for a smooth transition from heel-to-toe during the gait cycle.

When the barefoot running craze started, shoe manufacturers started playing around with the drop on running shoes. When you run barefoot, nothing raises your heel. Your heel and toe remain the same height. This called zero drop.

Vibram running shoes led the charge with their barefoot design. Other new brands appeared, like Altra which featured a barefoot design with the cushioning of a classic running shoe.

Nowadays, running shoes come in a range of drops from zero to 13mm.

For runners suffering from Achilles tendonitis, a higher drop running shoe places less strain on the Achilles. It flexes less and puts less pressure on that part of your foot while running. It’s for this reason that we recommend a high drop running shoe for Achilles tendonitis.

Stack Height

Often used in conjunction with drop when describing running shoe features, stack height refers to how thick the cushioning is in a running shoe. 

Like drop, it’s measured in millimeters (mm). The measurement is taken at the heel and toe. Stack height varies in running shoes from lightweight and minimal (low stack height) to thick and cushiony (high stack height).

The difference between toe stack height and heel stack height is the toe-to-heel drop. Some running shoes don’t advertise the drop. But this can be calculated by taking the difference between toe and heel stack height.

Support and Stability

These two terms are used interchangeably in running shoe descriptions. They are essentially the same thing; however, support and stability can be added to running shoes in different ways.

Loosely, these terms mean a shoe that has some stiffness to it. It’s a running shoe that keeps your feet in alignment as you run. Depending on the shoe, how much it realigns the foot will vary. 

This is opposed to running shoes without support/stability that don’t attempt to align your foot. These shoes – sometimes referred to as minimalist or barefoot running shoes – allow your feet to move naturally.

Stability running shoes as a category are designed to correct overpronation (where your foot rolls inwards excessively). Support shoes can also be corrective in this manner. Or it can just refer to a running shoe that isn’t designed to correct overpronation but remains supportive to keep your feet aligned.

For runners with Achilles tendonitis, it’s important to find a running shoe with support. Even if you don’t overpronate, you still want a shoe with good support, i.e. stiff without too much flex. Runners with Achilles tendonitis who do overpronate will benefit from extra support and stability. It’s for this reason that we divided this article into two sections with two different types of shoes.

Cushioning

Most running shoes have some cushioning. The main purpose of a running shoe is to protect your feet, legs, and body from excessive pounding and stress that occurs when running.

The amount of cushioning varies wildly from shoe to shoe from bare minimal in barefoot-style shoes to pillowy, cloud-like cushioning found in Hoka running shoes.

You do want cushioning when recovering from Achilles tendonitis, but too much cushioning will add strain to the Achilles. It’s better for a moderate amount of cushioning rather than too little or too much.

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AUTHOR

Ben is an avid road and trail runner, and has completed multiple marathons and ultras. A former running store owner, he now shares his knowledge and experience writing these articles.