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General Running • March 16, 2023

Achilles Tendinitis and the Little-Known Treatment That Fixed It For Me

Cropped shot highlighting a sportspersons injury.

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What You Need To Know


Symptoms and treatment of Achilles tendinitis

Meg's Magic Bullet

Check out Meg’s magical concoction that got her through Houston Marathon training

What Works For You?

Let us know what’s worked for you in the comments

The information provided in or through this website is for educational and informational purposes only and solely as a self-help tool for your own use. Please consult your doctor or physician before beginning any treatment.

My Background with Achilles Tendinitis 

It had been nearly 5 years since I found myself with any sort of injury. Sure, I had the occasional annoying pains here and there, but such is the life of a long-distance runner. Nevertheless, it was nothing that prevented me from lacing up every morning.

That was until December 2022, when I found myself with a bout of Achilles tendinitis, a nightmare injury for runners. Persistent and limiting, it’s an injury that falls into the same bucket as other deadly curses like plantar fasciitis, IT band syndrome, and high hamstring tendinitis.

As with most running injuries, it was your typical overuse case. I raced a half marathon and tried to squeeze in a workout two days later before leaving for a trip to Austin. Soon after, the pain and discomfort in my Achilles started, and– like most delusional runners– I decided to keep running on it. 

Eventually, the pain and discomfort were enough that I had to take several days off. I rarely take consecutive days off, so I can assure you the pain was real. I started back up using the Lever, an adjustable harness device that essentially turns your home treadmill into one of those anti-gravity treadmills you find at a physical therapist’s office. I posted a photo to Instagram expressing my gratitude for the machine. Almost immediately, people were messaging me with suggestions on how to treat Achilles tendinitis.

One of those messages was from Ben Johnson; it was an article he had bookmarked after going through a similar injury and coming through the other side. In short, the article recommended a ridiculous concoction of gels and creams rubbed into the Achilles, then wrapped securely with cling wrap (e.g. Saran® Wrap). Oh, and this is done right before you go to bed, so you you’re basically sleeping with a mummified leg.

Like any desperate, injured runner in the middle of marathon training, this plan sounded perfect. So I immediately tracked down the ingredients and wrapped my leg overnight. Me typing that sentence out still sounds just as crazy as the first time I tried it. 

How did it turn out? I’ll get to that in a second (okay, it worked), but before we go forward, let’s get a general idea about Achilles tendinitis and its symptoms to see if you might fall into the same injury camp as myself.

Man hurts his ankle while running on a treadmill,concept of not wearing shoes while running on a treadmill

What is Achilles Tendinitis?

Achilles tendinitis is a condition that causes pain, swelling, and stiffness in the Achilles tendon, which is the large tendon that connects your heel bone to your calf muscles. With most runners, it’s usually caused by overuse of the tendon, and is often a result of repetition over time.

What are the Symptoms of Achilles Tendinitis?

Before we get into it, it’s important to note that the below symptoms can vary in severity and may worsen over time if left untreated. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention to determine the best course of treatment.

  • Pain – This is pretty obvious, but the most common symptom of Achilles tendinitis is pain in the heel or the back of the leg, particularly when you walk or run.
  • Stiffness – The Achilles tendon may feel stiff and tender, particularly in the morning or after periods of rest.
  • Swelling – There may be swelling or redness around the Achilles tendon, especially in the acute phase.
  • Weakness – You may experience weakness or fatigue in the calf muscles.
  • Difficulty walking – If the pain is severe, you may find it difficult to walk or run normally.
Cropped shot of a young man in the studio with cgi highlighting his ankle injury.

What are the Basic Treatments for Achilles Tendinitis?

Stay tuned until the end for my magic concoction. But it’s important, especially in the early acute phase, to use my method in conjunction with the below recommendations to ensure a quicker recovery.

  • Rest – If you’re a runner, you know that this one is the hardest thing for us. But the fact remains– rest is crucial in treating Achilles tendinitis. You should avoid any activities that put pressure on the tendon and aggravate the pain. Yes, that means not going on your long run tomorrow.
  • Ice – Applying ice to the affected area can help reduce pain and swelling. Use ice packs for 15-20 minutes several times a day.
  • Compression – Wearing a compression sleeve (like GoSleeve) or bandage can help reduce swelling and provide support to the affected area.
  • Elevation – Elevating your leg can also help reduce swelling and improve blood flow to the affected area.
  • Physical therapy – Stretching and strengthening exercises can help improve the flexibility and strength of your Achilles tendon, which can help prevent future injuries.
  • Medications – Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation.

Now, For My Secret Treatment

We already mentioned this at the top, but let me say that this is in no way medical advice and you should consult your doctor before attempting, as one of these ingredients is a prescription-strength medication.

Anyway, after Ben sent me his advice, I went to bed that first night with a witches’ brew of gel, cream, and plastic wrap around my leg (stay to the end for the full recipe). I had my doubts, but I was willing to give anything a shot with a goal marathon around the corner.

And wouldn’t you know it, I woke up the next morning and my Achilles was feeling better than it had in weeks. Weeks! It wasn’t fully healed, but it was a lot better. I kept this nightly wrap routine going for about a month leading up to the Houston Marathon, and come race day, I had almost no discomfort. 

After the marathon, in addition to the nightly wrap, I started an exercise routine of leg and heel raises which I did about three times a day. This seemed to be the winning combination; one day I just woke up with zero pain of any kind. It was like Christmas morning and I haven’t had any issues since, running an average of 70 mile weeks.

Meghann Featherstun, Ben Johnson, Kofuzi, Meaghan Murray at the shakeout run

The Science Behind It

I reached out to Dr. Leo C. Kormanik II, a Certified Chiropractic Sports Practitioner (CCSP) to find out if I was completely delusional, or if this elixir had some legitimacy.

“Voltaren is used as a topical anti-inflammatory. I like to use it in cases of tendinitis since it is topical and doesn’t run through the liver or kidneys at the same rate as oral anti-inflammatories,” Kormanik noted. “For an area like the Achilles (some of the poorest blood flow tissue in the body) the Arnica really helps to pull blood to the area since it has been shown to increase circulation.”  

I’m sure you’re wondering if the cling wrap was just a ludicrous addition or an actual benefit, so I asked about that as well.

Good lipophilic (fat loving) lotions have been shown to hang around the applied area longer. Voltaren and a good arnica solution will be lipophilic and thus will not rub in easily since it will cross the skin membrane slower. The Saran wrap keeps the lotion on the skin so socks and pants do not rub it off.  Secondarily, the Saran wrap quickly heats up the area since it cannot breath normally. The increased blood flow as a reaction is obviously an advantage to an area like the achilles. Blood flow brings healing.” 

I think it’s safe to say the Achilles wrap is legit, but, if you’re not ready to go all-in, Dr. Leo C. Kormanik II offered up some more traditional solutions as well:

“With acute achilles scenarios KT taping can help to provide external support to the tendon and off load some of the stress. Avoiding traditional stretching and adding in foam rolling or voodoo wrapping of the tendon can help as an alternative to traditional stretching. For acute cases, I also advise people to ice once a day before bed by soaking the whole foot and ankle in cold water for 20 minutes just before bed and before the routine of cling wrap, etc.

“In cases of chronic achilles irritation, using a Jill Cook method of tendon holding can be of benefit to bolster the size of the healthy fibers. Contrast bathing can also be of great use here– ten minutes of deep heat on the tendon followed up by ten minutes of intense cold,” noted Dr. Kormanik.

KT recovery wave is also beneficial. The PEMF (pulse electromagnetic frequency) has been shown to speed up healing of damaged soft tissue. It is also imperative the athlete get treatments like dry needling and/or cupping, to help speed up the healing of the damaged fibers.” 

That’s good enough for me, and it should be good enough for you. If you want to give this concoction a try, keep reading to get the full rundown of the treatment.

Night Wrap ingrediants

Cling wrap, Voltaren/generic arthritis cream, and Arnicare gel

The Recipe

  1. Massage a small amount of equal parts Arnica and Diclofenac gel into the painful area until it has been absorbed into the skin.
  2. Apply an additional larger quantity of the cream and gel and lightly massage till they have mixed together. Leave this as a thick layer on top of the skin. This shouldn’t be fully absorbed into the skin.
  3. Wrap the cream and gel application area in cling wrap. Wrap 4-5 times for a secure fit.
  4. Pull a tall sock or compression sleeve over top to ensure it doesn’t move around while you’re sleeping 
  5. Go to bed and let the magic happen. 
    1. Repeat until pain subsides. If pain worsens or does not see improvement, consult your physician.

Will this work for you? I can’t guarantee it, of course, but if an Achilles tendinitis does crop up a couple weeks out from a race, this quick-fix will hopefully be enough to get you to the start line and across the finish.

Questions? Leave them in the comments below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Good luck and good riddance to Achilles pain!


Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. Ed says:

    I totally believe this. Voltaren is magic on its own. Arnica has helped with pain despite the fact I disbelieve in homeopathy! And the compression of the wrap and sock is also a cure all for lower leg issues for me. Add them together and up with Meg.

  2. Amanda says:

    After hearing Meg talk about this on the podcast, I wrapped my knees for IT band pain for a few nights before a race. It totally worked!! Thanks for sharing the magic!

  3. David Walser says:

    I dealt with chronic Achilles tendinitis for ten years and what finally fixed it for me was doing eccentric calf raises every day. Apparently what research has found is that you need to load the tendon to heal it. Now we just need to find a magic fix for plantar fasciitis!

  4. Bobby McGee says:

    The Mobo Board took care of my PF. I did the main recommended 5 or 6 exercises with it daily for about a month. I do it now 2 or three times a week for maintenance, and my feet are strong enough that I’m comfortable in just about any pair of running shoes.

  5. JimO says:

    Tried this for my medial tibial stress syndrome (shin splints) and definitely gave huge relief in 2 days. Boston is coming and I had to get out there.

  6. DC says:

    Oddly enough, the only thing that resolved a severe, years long case of Achilles tendonitis for me was a long, hard, hilly 100K ultra running event. My totally unscientific, pet theory is that it achieved in a single day the same thing that the popular tendon fiber scar tissue breakdown and re-alignment therapies induce (e.g. eccentric calf raises, ART, Graston, etc.)

  7. Tiffany Moreno says:

    Thank you, thank you! This worked for my hip. I believe the magic is in the Saran Wrap.

  8. Toma says:

    I had IT band issue when I heard about this voltaren/arnica gel witchcraft several months ago. I had nothing to lose so I did the wrap and it sure as hell worked! Safe to say that now it’s my go to healing solution for everything running related . Sore tendon? Or maybe you are starting to feel that annoying shin splint? Plantar fasciitis flaring up? Whatever your issue may be – give it a try 🙂 I don’t know why or how it works, but it does. Or it’s all in my head and it’s all placebo effect. Either way, it’s a solution as crazy as it sounds. Thank you!

  9. Steven Leung says:

    I do this to treat my posterior tibial tendonitis. along with stretching, strengthening exercises, massages, accupuncture. i have flat feet that causes this soreness and pain when over used and in peak marathon training. so far i’ve had very little pain when doing these things.

  10. Aimee says:

    I tried this (which I almost can’t believe) for plantar fasciitis (low level shit that has persisted for months on my one foot) and no kidding probably least pain upon waking up I’ve had in ages.

    Heads up: Applying the goo to the underside of foot meant getting up in the middle of the night felt super for first couple of steps felt super slippy.

  11. Jennifer Van Wagoner says:

    I see you say “arnica gel” but the link is to arnica cream. I just found the gel so I’m wondering if that’s just as good? (Arnicare gel).

    1. Robbe says:

      Thanks for the correction! Will fix it.

  12. Jennifer Van Wagoner says:

    So, just to clarify, Arnica Cream is the preferred? Since I’ve only found Arnica gel locally, I have been using that. Should I do the cream?

    1. rhaines says:

      I’ve personally been using the gel, and it’s worked like a charm. I can’t speak for Meg, but I’d say you should be good with either one. If anything, it’s easier to see the difference between the voltaren and the gel when on your foot, so I’m gonna stick with it.

  13. Oliver says:

    Are there shoes that rough up the Achilles more than others? I just switched from the Invincible 2 to the Endorphin Speed 3 and my tendons are aching. Not sure if it’s the increased speed, the drop, the different gait, or something about the build of the Speed 3. Thoughts?

    1. Robbe says:

      Sometimes it an just depend on the shoe, but generally speaking, a higher drop shoe is easier on the Achilles (the lower the drop, the more it stretches).

  14. Peter says:

    You’ve linked to an Arnica product that is homeopathic (i.e. a scam/BS/placebo). There are real arnica extracts out there really do help.

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Meaghan Murray
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Meaghan signed up for her first marathon three weeks before the race, because it was $10 more than the half she planned to run. She learned everything in running the hard way. Now a USATF & UESCA certified run coach, she loves encouraging friends to go for big goals as she continues to chase faster times. She enjoys a hot cup of coffee, a cold martini, and making bagels for friends and family.

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