Achilles tendonitis is an inflammation of the achilles tendon usually caused by repetitive loading from sports such as running, sprinting, basketball, tennis or any sport that requires a quick powerful push off from the ground. Technically speaking it is a para-tendinopathy which means its actually the outer layers of the tendon that have become irritated and inflamed.
The achilles is an incredibly strong tendon which is able to handle forces well over 10x body weight! and when you consider the average runner will have loading rates of around 3-4x body weight PER STEP then it becomes easy to see why this tendon is one of the most commonly injury in sports. First, it must be said that these loads and forces are what the achilles has evolved to handle, so it is not the running per se that is the problem. The problem really begins with poor bio-mechanics (alignment of the body). With poor alignment comes aberrant or faulty loading of the tendon which over time leads to the inflammation of the achilles.
What are the typical symptoms?
-Pain in the heel - Maybe sharp especially the first few steps after being sat down.
- Swelling around the ankle
- Pain when pointing toes
- A thickening of the tendon - Usually a sign of a chronic problem.
- Can lead to further complications such as achilles rupture if left untreated
How you can treat it
First of all it is recommend that you have a bio-mechanical assessment done. As we can pin point any compensations and put corrective strategies in place to correct any imbalances that lead to the problem in the first place.
However, The literature is showing that eccentric exercise is by far and away the most effective treatment you can do yourself, as this will stimulate the healing process but also stimulate the formation of collagen fibres that will help strengthen the tendon.
The best and easiest way to achieve this is by using a step at home. Place your toes at the end of the step and slowly lower your heal to the floor. Pause and then return to the top of the position. As you can see in the video below.
It is recommended that you follow a 4-1-2 rep count. 4 seconds down, Pause for 1 second and then return to the top position for a count of 2. The progression for this is simple. Add weight to your body, an easy way of doing this at home is to place some weight in a backpack and but it on. repeat 2- 3 x per day.
Please note this exercise advice is for information purposes only. It is advised that you see a qualified therapist who can evaluate your personal requirements.
If you have any questions or you think you might have an achilles problem feel free to contact me on either via email firstname.lastname@example.org or alternatively call me on 07500059064 and I'll be happy to provide any advice that I can.
Yours in Health
Andrew Graves M.Ost
Andy has been involved in the health & fitness industry for over 10 years, specialising in corrective exercise, injury prevention and rehabilitation of low back, neck and shoulder pain. He also has an interest in the use of Osteopathy for the management of headaches.