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Achilles Tendon Injuries

The Achilles tendon is the largest and strongest tendon in the body. This tendon is sometimes called the heel cord. The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. It lets you rise up on your toes and in the pushing-off phase of walking, running, or jumping. Injuries with the Achilles tendon may seem to happen suddenly, but usually they are the result of many tiny tears to the tendon that have happened over time. There are different types of Achilles tendon injuries: Achilles tendonitis, Achilles tenosynovitis, Tennis Leg, in the most severe cases Achilles tendon rupture.

Preventing Achilles Tendonitis

  • Warm up before exercise; perform proper and adequate stretching and strengthening exercises prior to participating in any sports. If the calf muscles are tight, it is a good idea to do stretching exercises twice a day, even if you are not undertaking any exercise activities.
  • It makes a world of difference when you wear properly fitted running, and other sports shoes. It will be well worth the investment.
  • Always increase the intensity and duration of training gradually.
  • Allow adequate time to recover before the next sporting event - this allows the tissue sufficient time to repair, as there is a lot of wear and tear to muscles and tendons after each exercise session. The amount of time varies; it depends upon the level and duration of the exercise.  
  • Pay attention to your everyday habits. A sedentary lifestyle, walking with your toes pointing out (duck-footed) and wearing shoes with heals can shorten the Achilles tendons. Short, tight tendons are subject to strain during almost any activity. When this occurs, pain is felt anywhere from the heel to the calf.
  • Consider massage as part of a stretching program. Lightly massage the calf muscles before exercising and massage the calf muscles and Achilles tendons after exercising. Although there is some controversy as to the benefits of massage, many health professionals believe that massage: reduces muscle and tendon tightness, promotes healing, reduces the time muscles need to recover from exercise, and increases flexibility. Use a rolling pin (*the stick) for the calf muscles. Apply ice therapy after massaging the Achilles tendons.
  • Look for Houghton Physical Therapy at local running events, we are happy to donate our time to help stretch and answer any questions.

What are the Causes of Achilles Tendonitis?

  • Overuse: A rapid increase in daily activity with repetitive stress on the feet. Athletes are at a greater risk of developing an Achilles injury.
  • Flat feet, hyper-pronated arch, duck footed, frail or tight tendon and calf muscles.
  • Inconsistent regimen with stretching exercises
  • Improper footwear: High heels, shoes without arch support, heel support and cushioning.
  • Arthritis: It being a musculo-skeletal ailment, tendinopathy can be sign in addition to other symptoms of joint pain.
  • Accidents or foot injury
  • Medications: Quinolone drugs cause inflammation of the tendon
  • Obesity: Achilles tendon bears thrice the body weight during body movements and being overweight increases the burden manifolds.

Call your health professional immediately if you think you have an Achilles tendon problem (at or above the back of your ankle) and:

  • The back of your heel and ankle are very painful.
  • You felt a sharp pain like a direct hit to the Achilles tendon.
  • You heard a pop in your Achilles tendon when injured.
  • You are unable to walk comfortably.
  • Your Achilles tendon area has begun to swell.
  • You have signs of damage to the nerves or blood vessels, such as numbness, tingling, a pins-and-needles sensation in your foot, or pale or bluish skin.

Treatment for severe problems, such as a torn or ruptured tendon, may include surgery or a cast, splint, brace, walking boot, or other device that keeps the lower leg from moving. It is highly recommended to use physical therapy when rehabilitating, it will help the lower leg get strong and flexible again. The tendon will take weeks to months to heal.

Physical Therapy

Your doctor may recommend that you visit a *physical therapist to treat your Achilles tendonitis. A physical therapist will teach you exercises that will strengthen your calf muscle and increase the range of motion of your foot. This is easily fixable with physical therapy, although it can be painful. The cross-friction massage techniques used to rid the scar tissue it caused are not a joy ride, but it is all worth it when you are back to your sport or exercise. Be sure to attend all of your physical therapy sessions to get the most benefit from this treatment. Continue performing these exercises at home to prevent further Achilles tendonitis from occurring. They are now part of your exercise routine for the rest of your active life.

*physical therapist-It is your choice where to go when your doctor recommends physical therapy. Ask them if it is okay if you get treated at Houghton Physical Therapy. You will be glad you did. See our testimonial page.

* The stick can be purchase at Perform Better directly from our website. Go to our physical therapy page then click on equipment. Look for monthly sales, discounts and free shipping offers.