Tag Archives: Achilles tendinopathy

Four easy exercises to ease Achilles tendonitis

What is Achilles tendonitis?
Achilles tendonitis (also known as Achilles tendonitis, Achilles tendinitis, Achilles tendon pain, Achilles tendinosis, Achilles tendinopathy) is inflammation of the Achilles tendon. The Achilles tendon is a tough band of fibrous tissue that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone (calcaneus). The Achilles tendon is also called the calcaneal tendon. The gastrocnemius and soleus muscles (calf muscles) unite into one band of tissue, which becomes the Achilles tendon at the low end of the calf. [1]

Anatomy of the heel

How do you get Achilles tendonitis?

Achilles tendonitis is an overuse injury that can occur with over training or poor biomechanics due to anatomy or poor footwear.

Common causes of Achilles tendonitis include;

  • Over-training or unaccustomed use – “too much too soon”
  • Sudden change in training surface, such as grass to bitumen
  • Flat (over-pronated) feet
  • High foot arch with tight Achilles tendon
  • Tight hamstring (back of thigh) and calf muscles
  • Toe walking (or constantly wearing high heels)
  • Poor footwear
  • Hill running
  • Poor eccentric strength [2]

Excessive high heel wearing can lead to Achilles tendonitis

What are the signs and symptoms of Achilles tendonitis?
The main signs and symptoms of Achilles tendonitis are pain in the Achilles area, particularly on walking/running and swelling around the back of the heel and Achilles tendon. Other symptoms include tight calf muscles, poor range of motion in the calf and ankle and the feeling of heat or burning in the heel.

Who gets Achilles tendonitis?
Achilles tendonitis is a very common runner injury . It can however, also affect athletes, basketballers, dancers, or people who put a lot of repeated stress on their feet.

Those with an over-pronating gait due to high foot arches can often be inflicted with chronic Achilles tendonitis and have to manage the injury for life.

How is Achilles tendonitis treated?
Most cases of Achilles tendonitis can be treated at home before it gets too severe.

Use the RICER formula:

  • RestDon’t exercise for a few days, or try an exercise that doesn’t stress your feet, such as swimming.
  • IceApply an ice pack wrapped in a towel or a cold compress to your tendon for 10 minutes or more after you exercise or if you feel pain in the tendon.
  • CompressUse tape or an athletic wrap to keep swelling down and help support and immobilise the tendon.
  • ElevateLie down and raise your foot above the level of your heart, and if possible, try to sleep with your foot elevated. This will help keep the swelling to a minimum.
  • Refer: See a physical therapist, such as a podiatrist and a massage therapist for treatment
  • Take anti-inflammatory medications. Pain relievers like ibuprofen can help ease pain and reduce swelling in the short term.
  • Stretch and exercise your ankles and calf muscles while you recover. Keeping your muscles, tendons, and ligaments strong and flexible will aid in your recovery and help you keep from re-injuring your Achilles tendon. A physical therapist can help you come up with a good exercise program.
  • Prescription orthotics. Orthotics can be helpful if you have poor biomechanics. Talk to your GP or a podiatrist to find out if they might work for you.
  • Massage. Remedial massage can help manage the muscle tension in the hamstrings and calves and help reduce swelling around the Achilles tendon [3]

What stretches should I do for Achilles tendonitis?

Calf Stretch: Place your hands on a wall with one leg straight and the heel to the ground. Place the other leg, with the knee bent, in front of the straight leg and push your hips toward the wall. Stretch your calf to the point where you feel a strong pull but no pain. Do not let your heels come off the ground. Hold the position for 20-30 seconds, and then relax. Repeat 3 times on each foot in a slow controlled manner.

The same stretch can be repeated, with both front and back knees bent.

Straight Leg Calf Stretch

Seated Heel Raises: Sit on a chair and raise your toes up as high as you can without pain. Slowly lower your heels. Do 5 repetitions, 4 times a day. You can gradually increase the intensity, as you get stronger by holding a weight on your thighs.

Seated Calf Raise

Following are some other exercises you can do, but they should be done under the supervision of a physical therapist, at least initially, because they could damage the Achilles tendon if they’re not done correctly:

Bilateral Heel Drop:  Stand at the edge of a stair or a raised platform that is stable. Put the front part of each foot on the stair. This position allows your heel to move up and down without hitting the stair. Hold on to a railing or support to help your balance.

Slowly lift your heels off the ground and slowly lower your heels to the lowest point possible. Be sure to do this in a controlled manner 20 times. You can also do this starting on the floor rather than the stair.

Unilateral (Single Leg) Heel Drop: This is similar to the bilateral heel drop except it’s done on one leg while the other leg is bent. Raise your heel off the ground and slowly lower it down. Do it in a slow controlled manner. Then switch to the other leg. [4]

Unilateral Heel Drop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/picture-of-the-achilles-tendon#1

[2] http://physioworks.com.au/injuries-conditions-1/achilles-tendonitis-tendinitis

[3] http://m.kidshealth.org/en/teens/achilles.html#kha_11

[4] https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/stretch-achilles-tendon