Achilles tendonitis is an annoying, and often very debilitating sports injury. It starts out as pain in or around the heel, but can quickly turn into a nightmare, as it can affect your everyday life.
If you have heel pain, you may be suffering from achilles tendonitis. Read on to find out more about this sports injury, and what you can do to keep off the sidelines.
Made famous by Greek
Mythology (or was it Roman?), the achilles tendon gets its name from the
great warrior Achilles. His only weakness on the battlefield...that
tiny tendon at the back of the heel.
I don't really know the story exactly, but I know that heel pain can curb your athletic activities.
The achilles tendon is soft connective tissue that connects the Gastroc and Soleus muscles into the calcaneus. It is a rather large tendon, and is easily felt along the back of the heel. Sometimes referred to as the heel cord, it serves its purpose to provide an attachment of the calf muscles. A working achilles tendon allows you to point your toes, and to walk, run, jump, and do the Macarena.
Tendonitis is simply an inflammation of a tendon, in this case, the
achilles tendon. Inflammation can come in the form of swelling, pain,
and possibly redness. Think of inflammation as a fire in the tissues.
Some kind of stress is irritating the soft tissue, and thus causing
pain, and a break down of the tissue fibers.
Learn more about tendonitis
Footwear can play a role in achilles
injury. Athletic shoes with poor
arch support, a flexible or unstable heel box, and less than optimal
upper support can allow excessive movement of the rearfoot during
Learn more about athletic shoes
Weak or imbalanced muscles, especially the calf
muscles can lead to injury. If the muscles are not conditioned to
withstand the stresses you are placing on them during activities, then
these excessive stresses are transferred to the tendon, again leading
Biomechanical issues, such as restricted motion at the foot, knee, hips, or low back, as well as excessive pronation at the foot can also cause this injury.
Treatment for tendonitis should focus on finding the
underlying problem and addressing it. Treating the symptoms with the
will be effective in reducing pain and the inflammation, however,
without addressing the underlying cause, your pain will most likely
Calf stretching to improve flexibility, strengthening of the lower extremity muscles, choosing proper footwear, and addressing biomechanical problems is the key to treating this injury.
Much like treatment, addressing the underlying causes can help to keep you off the sidelines. I can't say enough about having good flexibility. A routine of stretching, including your calf muscles, it important to keep your body working correctly. While many people out there say that stretching won't prevent injury, I know first hand poor flexibility and restricted motion will cause injury. So stretch - it won't hurt, and will help.
Make sure you have good shoes. Take the time to talk with your certified athletic trainer or family physician to determine your foot type, and spend the money for good athletic shoes.
When you start to have pain or discomfort in your achilles, seek treatment early. There is nothing worse than letting it go, thinking it will get better on its own, and then realizing, 3 months later, that it is effecting the way you walk and live life. Or worse, you suffer an achilles tendon rupture
Achilles tendonitis left untreated, especially in older athletes, can eventually lead to an achilles tendon rupture. This is a serious injury, and generally requires surgery and major rehabilitation to recover from. As the tendonitis gets worse, the tendon becomes weaker and weaker, until finally rupturing. So, don't wait...take care of it early and prevent an unwanted surgery and lengthy rehab.