Achilles Tendon Pain.
Achilles Tendon Pain.
Achilles tendon pain and inflammation is one of the most common conditions I see in my role as a sports massage therapist. Achilles tendinitis is commonly an overuse injury afflicting people who do regular exercise with their body weight over their toes, e.g. runners, basketballers etc. Tendinitis pain often presents as a delayed onset of throbbing pain or ache an hour or so after exercise has finished and the muscles and tendons cool down.
What is the Achilles Tendon
Tendons attach muscles to bone. The achilles tendon attaches the calf muscles, (gastrocnemius and soleus) to the heel bone (calcaneus). The achilles tendon allows you to lift your heel off the ground, so a fully functioning achilles tendon is critical to efficient running, walking and jumping.
Causes of Achilles Tendinitis
Incorrect equipment is one of the most common causes of any type of soft tissue injury. This is especially true of achilles tendinitis. Wear specific footwear for the activity your doing, if running be sure to running shoes with great cushion and a correct fit. The same applies for tennis, basketball, walking any activity. If your a runner, hard surfaces can often exacerbate the problem, try exercising on grass or a softer surface.
People with flat feet or inversion in their gait (feet turn inward whilst walking) are especially prone to injury. The flattened arch pulls on the calf muscles reduces flexibility in the lower leg and increases tension on the achilles tendon. The best fix for this to buy shoes with great arch support, have your shoes professionally fitted. If tendinitis is a reoccurring injury for you consult a podiatrist for can provide shoe inserts to increase your foot arch.
Ladies (and fella's that are so inclined).....get out of your high heels ! your putting your lower leg into an unnatural posture, and overloading calf and tendon. Ok Ok, I know you me need to wear the heels for work etc, so try minimise the time you spent in them, maybe wear joggers to work or the event then change into the heels.
Obesity is also a cause, more weight increases the load bearing on the tendon especially at the extremities of the body.
Treatment of Achilles Tendinitis
If your experiencing pain, swelling and restricted movement after exercise, within the first hour finishing you should ice the area for 20 minutes to reduce inflammation.
If you can loosen and improve the flexibility of the calf muscles, then the stress the achilles tendon is put under is significantly reduced. Constant stretching is the key to rehabilitation. Stretch before and after activity, and also throughout your day. The more your stretch the longer your muscles fibres lengthen and this is best way to reduce tension in the lower leg.
Achilles Tendon and Calf Stretches
Kinesiology Tape = External Support.
Over the last few years the strapping tape market has leaped into the new world, with some astonishing technological advancements. My personal favourite is Kinesiology Tape, known as KT Tape. KT Tape is especially effective for athletes and it's magic is imbued in the tape's lightweight elasticity. The tape acts as a second skin, and works by creating neuromuscular feedback that relaxes the muscles or tendons it's attached too. The tape's cotton sheath fibres, mimic the design of human muscles bands, with allows the tape to stretch in length but not in width. If that's not impressive enough, KT Tape has also developed a waterproof adhesion that lasts through sweat and humidity. It lasts on the skin for up to five days !