Achilles tendinitis 2019-07-18T17:03:49+00:00

Achilles tendinitis

The Achilles tendon is one the largest tendon that attaches to the foot. The tendon originates from two muscles the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles which make up the calf, the tendon attaches to the calcaneus, the heel bone. The tendon is extremely important if you like to walk, run, jump or do those all-important calf raises.

Professional sporting athletes or weekend warrior athletes are at the highest risk of Achilles tendonitis although it is still quite prevalent in the non-sporting community. Ensuring you have adequate lower limb muscle activity to perform your chosen sport is crucial to reducing risk factors of Achilles tendonitis. With an increase in muscle activity and strength the tendon has more protection from factors including the change of surface, excessive stress placed on the calf, decreased recovery between activities. This means you must scale your training to allow for proper physiological adaptations to the muscles so that it can cope with your desired workload. Wearing inadequate or incorrect footwear for the sport, excessive pronation which increase force on the Achilles tendon and a decreased range of motion on the ankle will increase the stresses on the tendon. These risk factors can be excessed by an accredited podiatrist or physiotherapist to reduce the likelihood of injury.

The heel pain clinicians provide multiple solutions to either prevent, manage or rehabilitate the ankle when signs and symptoms occur in an athlete. Some of these procedures include strapping the ankle to redirect forces, education on sport specific shoes and techniques to limit stress on the Achilles tendon. A focus on an active warm up and cool down to prevent injuries due to a ‘stiff ankle’ should be followed.

Signs and symptoms of Achilles tendonitis may vary between patients and is dependent on the grade of injury, it is always important to have a professional diagnosis and not rely on a coach or parent who has ‘seen it before’. If you notice pain or stiffness in the tendon in the morning, swelling around the ankle or stiffness that reduces as begin to warm up or exercise then it is a good time to seek help. The injury is graded 1-4.

Grade   Description

1 (mild) Pain after running only

2 (moderate)          Pain before and after running, pain gradually lessons during a run.

3 (severe)              Pain with activity causing a decrease in volume of activity.

4 (extreme)            Pain during everyday activities (pain worsening or progressing)

The treatment of Achilles tendonitis may take weeks or months depending on the grade. Rehabilitation protocols including de-loading the ankle through crutches or immobilisation via a cast in severe cases. The key to recovery is time, with the appropriate advice exercise can still be maintained although it is important to remember the tendon needs time to heal and repair the site of injury.

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