Low Top (runners/hiking shoe) Training for Strengthening & Improving Achilles Tendonitis

lifeisgoodsteve

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 12, 2018
Messages
204
Location
Bitterroot Valley
Hi All,

Does anyone else hike in low top shoes/runners for the sake of strengthening your foot and calf muscles, even if you normally wear boots when hunting?

I've had such great success with it this spring, stumbling across the fact that my achilles tendon didn't get as sore when hiking in the low tops (Scarpa Mescalito - approach shoes, which I love!). At the same time, I can clearly feel the small, supporting muscles in my feet, ankles and calves strengthening, so am thinking this is something I'd continue at least during training, even after I can wear boots without achilles tendon pain.

The improvement and good feeling in my achilles tendon after switching to the low tops has been remarkable, so thought I'd share in case others suffer from it. As good as I feel in life at 49, it was funny to read a common cause of achilles tendonitis is a middle aged man pushing himself too hard too fast or being a weekend warrior without working the muscles during the week. Guilty as charged! Now I'm trying to be more consistent with short up-hill training hikes during the week and have gradually increased pack weight about 5-8 lbs per week rather than jumping from zero to 40+ which I did last year when the whole tendonitis started.

Very simply, after a couple months of resting my achilles, these three things helped a lot and seem to be valuable enough for me to continue after achilles feels good too:
  1. Eccentric calf strengthening exercises (
    )
  2. Calf, ankle, leg stretching
  3. Hiking in low top shoes (Scarpa Mescalito - an approach shoe I'm loving - https://www.scarpa.com/mescalito)
Cheers,

Steve
 

BRTreedogs

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2017
Messages
3,343
Location
Central Oregon
I've thought about it.
My Achilles is getting tighter this yr.
Problem is I have tender feet to so I cant hike off trail without a boot.
I've thought about the 5 toes shoes alot.
There supposed to help strengthen your foot.
 
OP
L

lifeisgoodsteve

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 12, 2018
Messages
204
Location
Bitterroot Valley
I've thought about it.
My Achilles is getting tighter this yr.
Problem is I have tender feet to so I cant hike off trail without a boot.
I've thought about the 5 toes shoes alot.
There supposed to help strengthen your foot.

I don't know yet if I'll wear the low tops hunting or just training when on trail, as I haven't ventured off trail yet this year with them.

I've got about 15-20 miles and 7500ft elevation gain or so on uneven trail combining hard pack dirt and rocks mostly. What I'm thinking is that at least for training hikes the strengthening is proving very valuable and seems to be helping my achilles recover, so if nothing else I'll continue in on-trail activities.

Not sure how my ankles/feet/low tops will perform in the soft dirt, uneven terrain sidehilling I often encounter in our local deer areas. Hopefully the achilles will be healthy enough I'll have the option of boots.

Cheers

s
 

Formidilosus

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 22, 2014
Messages
1,779
Not sure how my ankles/feet/low tops will perform in the soft dirt, uneven terrain sidehilling I often encounter in our local deer areas. Hopefully the achilles will be healthy enough I'll have the option of boots.

Cheers

s


They work fantastic if your feet and legs- bones, tendons, ligaments, muscles, and facia are strong enough and used to the work you ask of them. This has been discussed multiple times, but supportive shoes and boots are caskets... your feet go there to die. The worse ting someone can do is to go from a stiff mountain boot to a minimal flexible shoe and immediately go hunt the Frank Church. The second worse thing is to spend a lifetime being leashed to a crutch for weak feet.
 
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lifeisgoodsteve

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 12, 2018
Messages
204
Location
Bitterroot Valley
They work fantastic if your feet and legs- bones, tendons, ligaments, muscles, and facia are strong enough and used to the work you ask of them. This has been discussed multiple times, but supportive shoes and boots are caskets... your feet go there to die. The worse ting someone can do is to go from a stiff mountain boot to a minimal flexible shoe and immediately go hunt the Frank Church. The second worse thing is to spend a lifetime being leashed to a crutch for weak feet.

Thanks. That's exactly what I've been experiencing which makes me think that even if someone were to want to wear boots, for whatever reason, that training in the low tops is great for strengthening all those areas you mentioned. I started small at first and gradually increased to a 9.5mi hike with about 1500+ elevation gain last weekend. Even with the miles and hills I'd done before, my feet still felt sore the next day, so I've got plenty of strengthening to still do before deer season and lots of sidehilling.

My point is that I think it's not all one or the other, as the low top training is good either way if pace it per your strength level.

Cheers
 

Learner

Newbie
Joined
Dec 3, 2019
Messages
2
I had Achilles issues before as well. I was wearing boots all day every day, which is one of the big problems since I had poor ankle mobility and weak feet.

In order to heal and strengthen I, took several steps. Number one was wearing boots less, but still using a very supportive shoe. Approach shoes are great for this, because they still give your foot the support it is used to with a rigid sole, but they let you build ankle strength and mobility up. After about two months of this, I moved into Altra trail running shoes (Lone Peaks) for my everyday shoe.

I now rotate through a few different pairs of Altra's for running around and daily chores, including light hiking. When I am going somewhere requiring a more rugged boot, I toss on the best boots for the task and have no issues. It is generally hard (at least for myself and the friends I've talked to) to go from a stiff boot to a low-drop shoe, but going from a low-drop low support shoe to a stiff boot poses few problems.
 
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lifeisgoodsteve

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 12, 2018
Messages
204
Location
Bitterroot Valley
I had Achilles issues before as well. I was wearing boots all day every day, which is one of the big problems since I had poor ankle mobility and weak feet.

In order to heal and strengthen I, took several steps. Number one was wearing boots less, but still using a very supportive shoe. Approach shoes are great for this, because they still give your foot the support it is used to with a rigid sole, but they let you build ankle strength and mobility up. After about two months of this, I moved into Altra trail running shoes (Lone Peaks) for my everyday shoe.

I now rotate through a few different pairs of Altra's for running around and daily chores, including light hiking. When I am going somewhere requiring a more rugged boot, I toss on the best boots for the task and have no issues. It is generally hard (at least for myself and the friends I've talked to) to go from a stiff boot to a low-drop shoe, but going from a low-drop low support shoe to a stiff boot poses few problems.

That sounds so similar to my experience, thanks for sharing as it's encouraging. How long did it take for you to get to the point without feeling pain/discomfort in the achilles?

Mine keeps getting better so I rarely feel it during daily life walking around, but still have to moderate my exertion on the trails. Feel it more on the trails with boots still, but getting better.

Cheers
 

brettdunn7

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 8, 2019
Messages
369
I use my Salomons and actually love it. May not get a boot when season comes around. A lot are so overpriced anyways.


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wiiawiwb

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 12, 2016
Messages
675
Location
In the mountains
Boots have been off my radar for decades and I don't see them coming back. All of my time in the woods is spent in low or mid-level trailrunners. INOV-8 is my brand choice and they've worked out well.

I've always believed that locking up your ankles in a boot is a bad idea. If you inadvertently twist your foot on an uneven surface, your foot and ankle cannot absorb the energy as they are locked up in the boot. I believe it transfers that energy to you knee resulting in problems there.

To each their own but I believe the OP is correct and it has worked well for me for a very-long time. YMMV.
 
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