Achilles Tendonitis

Achilles Tendonitis is Latin for 'inflammation of the Achilles Tendon'. The Achilles Tendon is the longest tendon in the body, connecting the calf muscles to the heel bone just behind the ankle joint. When our calf muscles contract, they pull on the Achilles Tendon, causing your foot to point down and helping you rise on your toes. Hence, the Achilles plays an important role in walking.

Achilles Pain occurs just above the back of the heel and often one experiences tightness in the calf muscles at the same time. The Achilles Tendon in this area may be noticeably thickened and tender to the touch. Pain is present with walking, especially when pushing off on the toes.

Achilles Tendonitis pain can develop gradually without any history of trauma. The pain can be a shooting pain, burning pain, or even an extremely piercing pain. Achilles Tendonitis should not be left untreated due to the danger that the tendon can become weak and ruptured. Achilles pain is aggravated by activities that repeatedly stress the tendon, causing inflammation. In some cases even prolonged periods of standing can cause symptoms. It is a common problem often experienced by athletes, particularly distance runners. Achilles Tendonitis is a difficult injury to treat in athletes due to their high level of activity and reluctance to stop or slow down their training.

People who suffer from Achilles Tendonitis often notice that their first steps out of bed in the morning are very painful. Another common complaint is pain after steps are taken after long periods of sitting. This pain often lessens with activity.

What causes of Achilles Tendonitis?

Irritation and inflammation occur as a result of a persistently strained Achilles Tendon, and in severe cases, this can even lead to a rupture of the tendon. Tight calf muscles may also play a role in the condition, which is called Tendinopathy. Chronic overuse may also contribute to degeneration and a thickening of the tendon. Although this is most commonly seen in runners, our tendons can also degenerate as a result of the natural process of aging. Degeneration refers to the wear and tear that takes place over time, eventually leading to weakness in the fibres of the tendon.

Excess pronation is actually the most common cause of Achilles Tendonitis. As our feet roll inward, the tibia in the lower leg is forced to rotate, placing strain on the calf muscles. The calf muscles are connected to the Achilles Tendon and this tendon is the “weakest link in the chain”. Over-pronation causes the Achilles Tendon to over-stretch, resulting in irritation and inflammation.

Treatment options

Athletes, particularly runners, should incorporate a thorough stretching program to properly warm-up the muscles. They should decrease the distance of their walk or run, apply ice after the activity and avoid any uphill climbs. Athletes should use Footlogics Sports orthotics for extra support and to reduce stress on the achilles tendon. In regular shoes the Footlogics Comfort is very helpful for this condition.

Both devices can be used to control over-pronation, support the longitudinal arch, and reduce stress on the achilles tendon. If the problem persists, consult a Podiatrist or Physiotherapist.

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