The Achilles tendon is a very strong tendon at the back of the heel. It connects the calf muscle to the heel. It’s primary purpose is to help with walking, running and general movement of the foot. It can become inflamed and painful (tendonopathy or tendonitis) with overuse from, for example, increasing training levels too quickly, inappropriate footwear, poor muscle strength and flexibility.
Signs and symptoms of Achilles tendonopathy:
- Pain in the tendon area, especially on walking and running.
- Thickening of the tendon
- Tenderness of the tendon
If you experience pain in this area, ice it regularly, stretch your calf muscle and tendon (pain free), look at your training methods, running surface and footwear.
Modify your training, so that you do not run downhill, or engage in jumping activities. Alternatively you can look at swimming and cycling as aerobic form of exercise.
As a general rule, make sure you only increase you training intensity, distance and duration by no more than 10% a week
Physiotherapy treatment for Achilles tendonitis will concentrate on breaking down scar tissue, stretching and mobilising the tendon as well as strengthening the whole calf muscle. Balance rehabilitation is also very important in the return to function. A thorough biomechanical assessment to determine if a change of footwear or insoles are required