In the Greek mythology Achilles was the strongest and most handsome warrior. He was invincible but for one little area: his heel tendon….
So why is the Achilles tendon so prone to be the “weakest link”?
- Achilles tendon is an energy absorbing and energy releasing structure, which connect the bottom part of the muscle chain of the back of the leg to the ankle. This unit is critical for an efficient and effective running.
- Achilles tendon is prone to overuse purely by the nature of its function. It has a poor perfusion (blood flow) poor healing prolonged recovery periods.
It is best to treat in the earliest stages of injury
- Pain close to the heel, sharp, poking and incapacitating.
- Pain along the Achilles tendon, at the back of the lower leg.
- Occasionally mild swelling at the base of the tendon (near heel) and redness.
- Pinching the Achilles very painful
- Pain during and after running (Stop! This is not an injury you can run through)
- In chronic cases there can be thickening or a thickened ‘lump’ on tendon when compared to the uninjured leg.
- Excessively tight, weak calves are the culprit
- Weak posterior chain – back extensors, glutes hamstrings, calves
- Constantly running on hard surfaces – greater ground forces
- Unsupportive footwear
- Worn out shoes or shoes no cushioning
- Rapid increase in volume and/or intensity
- Severe pronation, foot instability, a leg-length discrepancy and muscle asymmetries can also contribute to Achilles pain.
- Rest, icing, strapping early stages.
- Reducing training intensity and volume or complete rest depending on pain and the severity.
- Soft tissue massage release tight structures throughout the lower limb and back.
- Physiotherapy to mobilise tight structures, acupuncture
- Strengthen your calves, hamstrings, glutes and core and stretching calf.
- Controlled ECCENTRIC heel drop exercises
- Increase flexibility, and strengthen the ankle and calf muscles and decrease stress on the tendon.
- Strengthen the entire limb from the pelvis, core, hip, glutes and hamstring muscles
- Eccentric exercices
- Underlying risk factors – shoes, orthotics, leg length discrepancy
- Monitor training capacity, slow and steady wins the race!
Physiotherapy will help you first of all to identify the cause of “your own” Achilles tendinopathy”. This can be different than the cause of your neighbour’s problem! It will also help to prevent this problem from happening again. A proper general assessment, followed bio-mechanical assessments, gait and running analysis strengthening and stretching exercises will help to solve the knee problem. In addition specific strapping, massage, deep frictions, electrotherapy and insoles can help to reduce the pain.
Untreated Achilles tendinopathy can increase the risk of suffering of a chronic problem and chronic pain and reduce the pleasure of running and even walking. Ignoring the pain and swelling masking it with medications can increase the risk of a rupture of the Achilles tendon. This could require surgery or dramatically reduce the function and power of your lower leg.
Don’t run into troubles. If you have been suffering with Achilles Tendinopathy book an appointment today.