What is Achilles Tendonitis?
The Achilles tendon is very strong. It’s found at the back of your ankle and connects your calf muscle to the bone in the heel of your foot. The Achilles tendon can become inflamed through overuse as well as a number of contributory factors. The Achilles tendon has a poor blood supply which is why it is slow to heal. Achilles tendonitis can be acute or chronic. Acute Achilles tendonitis may happen as a result of overuse or training too much, too soon especially on hard surfaces or up hills.
What are the symptoms of Achilles Tendonitis?
Pain on the tendon during exercise is usually felt. Achilles pain will gradually come on with prolonged exercise but will go away with rest. Swelling over the Achilles tendon is common, as is redness over the skin. Sometimes a creaking or lumpiness is felt when you press your fingers into the tendon and move the foot.
What are the causes of Achilles Tendonitis?
It is an overuse injury, it is often a case of ‘too much, too soon’. Running up hills will mean the Achilles tendon has to stretch more than normal on every stride. This will not cause problems initially but will mean the tendon will fatigue sooner than normal. Feet which roll in more than normal can place an increased strain on the Achilles tendon. As the foot rolls in (pronates) and flattens, the lower leg rotates inwards also which twists the Achilles tendon placing twisting stresses as well as stresses along its length.
What should I do if I have Achilles Tendonitis?
An assessment with a podiatrist should be sought to review the cause of the problem and to devise a management plan to treat the condition. Your running regime may require modifying, as may footwear.
What shouldn’t I do if I have Achilles Tendonitis?
‘Running through’ pain should be avoided. Continuing with the current, possibly harmful training regime that is causing the symptoms is likely to be detrimental and should be avoided.
Could there be any long term effects of Achilles Tendonitis?
The worse case scenario is that the tendon snaps, this can occur all of a sudden if vigorous exercise is attempted out of the blue, or it can occur after a long period of tendonitis. This requires urgent attention.
Podiatry treatment for Achilles Tendonitis
An orthotic (shoe insert) that reduces the amount of pronation (the foot and leg rolling inwards) can help reduce overstrain on the tendon. Footwear advice can be provided by the podiatrist as to what is suitable for training.
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