What is Achilles tendonitis?

Some runners are familiar with the painful condition called Achilles tendonitis. It occurs when the tendon that attaches your calf muscle to your heel bone becomes inflamed. Non-insertional Achilles tendonitis is the most common type to affect runners. This article will explain the common symptoms and causes and offer some suggested methods of recovery.

Symptoms

You may have Achilles tendonitis if you notice

  • tightness in one or both calf muscles,
  • pain, tenderness, swelling or unusual warmth on the back of the heel,
  • an inability to flex your foot and ankle without discomfort or limited range of motion.

Causes

Achilles tendonitis is relatively common in active people, particularly walkers, runners and those who play sports that require sudden stops or directional changes. This is due to the strain that these activities can place on calf muscles. The stress inflames the Achilles tendon and can worsen if not treated. Exercising suddenly after an extended period of inactivity or starting an intense workout without warming up can also inflame the area. Other causes of Achilles tendonitis include wearing high heeled shoes for extended periods, wearing shoes that don’t fit well or lack support, and having pre-existing bone spurs on the heel.

Treatment

Achilles tendonitis can vary in intensity. If the pain is noticed early, an at-home strategy like Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation combined with a break from exercise may be enough to resolve the issue. Other suggestions include wearing a specialist boot to reduce pressure on the tendon, attending physiotherapist sessions and using orthotic inserts to relieve pressure.

If it is continually inflamed through further exercise or isn’t improving at home, steroid injections or even surgery may be suggested by a health care professional. These treatment options are usually only required if the injury isn’t addressed in its initial stages.

Prevention

Warm up well before attempting exercise (especially if for the first time), don’t increase endurance or speed drastically in a short space of time, wear the right shoes for the activity and make sure they are in good condition. If you wear high heels, switch to shorter heels gradually until you can wear flats, so that the tendon isn’t suddenly overstretched.

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Whilst Enertor has over 18 years Orthotics experience, our blog content is provided for informational purposes only and it is not a substitute for your own doctor’s medical advice. Enertor advises anyone with an injury to seek their own medical advice – and do not make any health or medical related decisions based solely on information found on this site.

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