Achilles Tendinopathy is a common problem that affects most who have played sport. There are many different causes and treatments that can help you back to 100%. The type of surfaces you play on, the frequency in which you participate and your footwear can increase risk of injury.
In this post we describe the common causes, prevention and possible treatment modalities for Achilles Tendinopathy.
What Is The Achilles Tendon?
The Achilles Tendon is situated on the back of the lower leg. It connects the gastrocnemius (calf), soleus and plantaris muscles to the heel bone. These muscles allow you to point your toes towards the ground. Furthermore, the Achilles is the thickest tendon in the human body and is named after the Greek Hero Achilles.
What Causes Achilles Tendinopathy and Pain?
There are many different causes of Achilles pain, with many different factors playing a part in true cause of your pain. Below is a small list detailing the most common causes of Achilles pain. For most causes of Achilles pain there are simple changes to exercise or lifestyles that can help your recovery. Furthermore, Achilles pain is often referred to as Achilles Tendinopathy. This is a blanket term that revolves around the degeneration of the Achilles.
- Rapid Change To Load
- Traumatic Injury
Where Are The Two Types Of Achilles Tendinopathy Located?
The two types of achilles tendinopathy will present in either an insertional or non-insertional injury/pain. Therefore, the best way to determine which you have is to seek professional advice. The medical professional will be able to quickly determine which you are suffering with.
Non-Insertional Tendinopathy: This affects the middle fibres of the tendon and is typically present in the more active population.
Insertional Tendinopathy: This affects the insertion of the Achilles into the heel bone. Boney spurs can often form with this type of tendinopathy.
To get this sorted as soon as possible, I would recommend seeing a Sports Therapist or Physiotherapist. You may feel inclined to visit your GP, however, their most likely recommendation will be to rest and take pain killers. We would ideally want to avoid this where possible.
Is There A Way To Prevent Achilles Pain?
With Achilles pain and tendinopathies there are several things you can do to reduce your risk of suffering with this pain. Firstly, take a look at your footwear. Are they appropriate for what you use them for? Offer enough support?
An example of poor footwear is the flat plimsoll type shoe, these offer no support to the foot and ankle. Which can lead to the over-pronation of the foot and ankle. Increasing risk of Achilles Tendinopathy.
Body Mass: A risk factor for Achilles pain is obesity. The increased weight will increase the stress on the tendon. Therefore, just losing a few KG’s can really help in the prevention of Achilles Pain. Learn more about your body mass here.
Loading: Adequately preparing the tendon for activity is key. You wouldn’t go and run a marathon without slowly building up your training. Therefore, try and add specific loading exercises into your training.
Mobility: Within our assessment we will always look at the range of motion of the ankle. If the calf is tight this will increase stress on the tendon.
What Can I Do To Help My Achilles Pain?
There are countless ways you can help your tendon in recovery. Doing nothing is often the prescription for recovery. However, how often do you do this and return to your activity and it flares up again?
Seeking a Medical Professionals advice is the best way for recovery. They can put together a rehab plan that will get you back at a stronger level than you were previously. However, not everyone has the finances to be able to seek this help.
Therefore a couple of simple tips to help reduce your pain when suffering with Achilles Tendinopathy are below.
- Get Supportive Footwear
- Regularly Stretch Calf Muscles
- Take Anti-Inflammatories if required. (Do so at own risk)
- Load Tissues Appropriately