Let’s Discuss Achilles Tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis is a common overuse injury that affects the Achilles tendon, which is the tough band of tissue connecting your calf muscles to your heel bone. If you’ve felt persistent pain, stiffness, or swelling around your heel, especially after a run or a workout, you might be dealing with Achilles tendonitis.

It’s an issue many active people face, but the good news is that Achilles Tendonitis is manageable with the right approach. In this brief article brought to you by Mountain Spring Podiatry, we dive into what Achilles tendonitis is, why it happens, and how you can treat and prevent it.

If you’d rather discuss your concerns or symptoms with a licensed podiatrist, then call Mountain Spring Podiatry to schedule a convenient appointment today.

What is Achilles Tendonitis?

Achilles tendonitis happens when the Achilles tendon becomes inflamed due to repetitive stress. This tendon plays a crucial role in your ability to walk, run, and jump, so it can significantly impact your daily activities and exercise routines when it gets irritated. Unlike its more chronic counterpart, Achilles tendinopathy, which involves degeneration of the tendon fibers, tendonitis is primarily about inflammation.

What causes Achilles Tendonitis?

Achilles tendonitis typically develops due to overuse, often in individuals who ramp up their physical activity too quickly. There are many factors that contribute to this condition, but here is five:

  • Sudden Increase in Activity: If you suddenly increase the duration, intensity, or frequency of your workouts, your Achilles tendon might not have time to adapt to the new demands.
  • Improper Footwear: Wearing shoes that don’t provide adequate support or cushioning can strain your Achilles tendon.
  • Poor Running Technique: Incorrect form, such as overpronation (or excessive rolling of the foot), can put extra stress on the tendon.
  • Tight Calf Muscles: Limited flexibility in your calf muscles can increase tension on the Achilles tendon.
  • Age and Overuse: As we age, the tendon loses some of its elasticity and is more prone to injury.

Mindfulness when training or exercising can go a long way in preventing this common condition. With that said, it’s important to understand the signs of trouble. Let’s look at symptoms.

Recognizing the symptoms

The symptoms of Achilles tendonitis are usually pretty straightforward. Pain typically starts as a mild ache above the heel after physical activity and can become more severe with continued use. Stiffness is often worse in the morning or after periods of inactivity.

You might also notice some swelling around the back of your ankle. The area around the tendon can be tender to the touch too. You may even find it hard to flex your foot or stand on your toes.

Treating Achilles Tendonitis

When it comes to treating Achilles tendonitis, the goal is to reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and promote healing. Let’s touch on some effective strategies.

The first step is to reduce or modify activities that aggravate your symptoms. This might mean taking a break from running or switching to low-impact exercises like swimming or cycling.

Applying ice to the affected area for 15-20 minutes several times a day can help reduce inflammation and pain. Compression wraps or sleeves can also provide support and decrease swelling.

You don’t want to completely shut off the Achilles Tendon. Gently stretching the calf muscles can relieve tension on the Achilles tendon. Once the acute pain subsides, incorporating strengthening exercises can help rebuild the tendon’s resilience. Eccentric calf raises, where you slowly lower your heel below the level of a step, are particularly beneficial.

Investing in shoes with good arch support and cushioning can make a big difference. Custom orthotic inserts can also help correct any biomechanical issues that contribute to the problem. Routine foot care should also be a part of your annual schedule if you want to protect your foot and ankle health.

Consult with Foot Specialists

Speaking with a licensed foot doctor is your best bet at getting accurate diagnosis and proper treatment. If you would like to consult with trained foot specialists, then call Mountain Spring Podiatry to schedule a convenient appointment for as soon as possible.