Achilles tendonitis - What, Why and How?

Achilles tendonitis - What, Why and How?

A common complaint of sportsmen and women of many different disciplines is Achilles tendonitis. This distributive condition  can strike any athlete, but is particularly for those who train and perform on hard surfaces. In layman terms the condition refers to pain and tightness at the back of the heel.

It may be the largest and strongest tendon in the body, but the Achilles is the weak spot of many an athlete. Just like in the movie Troy, it can often feel we have been hit in the ankle with an arrow and leave us feeling sore and a lot of rather discomforting pain.

The general school of thought is that over-use is the deciding factor and it induces the condition1. It is most likely a combination of things both intrinsic and extrinsic, with other factors that have been considered such as diminished flexibility, age and even gender2 contributing factors that are primarily triggered by over use.

Do I have Achilles tendonitis?

The Achilles becomes inflamed and slightly swollen either side. You could feel pain at the back of ankle. This is made worse by flat shoes and raising up onto your toes, such as when you jump.

What causes Achilles tendonitis?

Over time micro trauma develops and this causes a tight, irritating feeling. This is accompanied by inflammation (swelling) and redness either side of the tendon.

As discussed previously this can be down to several factors but is typically due to overuse, with other factors such as age and conditioning playing a part.

So, how do we treat Achilles tendonitis?

There are lots of different thoughts on treatment. Supports, straps and even lotions are available on the market. However, the first thing we have to look at is the inflammation. So, a simple ice around the effected tissue is often the best first course of treatment. This can be as simple as your foot in a bucket of cold water with a few ice cubes, or gentle rubbing ice either side.

Suitable footwear is also a good idea. A slight raise in the heel can help take some pressure off the tendon during walking and during everyday activities.

Sports Massage can also help. This can help improve the blood flow to the area and kick start the healing process. However, it must be done after the ‘acute’ phase of the injury, when its red and inflamed then massage can be used.

If it continues to get worse consult a physio or better yet see if you can get in to see a specialist in the area. We say a physic rather than a doctor as physio’s are specific trained in injuries such as AT. Where as a doctor is trained more in the field of diseases and illness.

BodyAid Solutions

Body Aid Solutions Ltd is a provider of sports massage courses nationally

  • Paavola M, Kannus P, Jarvinen T, Khan K, Jozsa L, Jarvinen M. Current concepts review: Achilles tendinopathy. J Bone Joint Surg. 2002;84A(11):2062–2076.
  • Alfredson H, Lorentzon R. Chronic achilles tendinosis: Recommendations for treatment and prevention. Sports Med. 2000;29(2):135–46.

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