For many of us injuries tend to come on after being overworked throughout the Winter Sports season, with our bodies taking the toll for this increased exercise load and both new and niggling injuries coming into play. The next thing you know you are struggling to walk come Monday morning.
Often practitioners will have patients presenting with pain around the Achilles, being the tendon that attaches our calf muscle to our heel bone – Sports or activities involving running and/or jumping can be the main culprits for this!
Achilles tendinopathy is a common injury usually related to overuse from an increase in activity or long periods of time on your feet.
The Achilles tendon and our calf muscles are both important in being our main propulsive mechanism for walking or running and without the two we wouldn’t be able to function normally. Therefore, when there is pain or injury to the Achilles tendon it can be very problematic for patients.
Pain is characteristically found about 2cm above the heel within the tight fibres of the tendon, and is irritated by high impact strain mostly associated with running and jumping style sports (rugby, AFL, soccer, netball etc.). Don’t be mistaken in thinking only athletes are prone to this, as it doesn’t discriminate and can be caused by simply moving up stairs or moving/landing abruptly.
Initially it is important to have a Podiatrist/Physiotherapist assess the injury and determine what mechanical processes have occurred to cause this injury, and from there we can alter your activity to reduce strain on the structure.
Given that this is your ‘classic soft tissue injury’; Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation (RICE) are initially important in reducing both pain and inflammation.
However, treatment options may include conditioning exercises, heat, footwear changes, taping, manual therapy and if foot posture is an issue Orthotic Therapy may be implemented by your practitioner.
In short, this can be a very damaging long-term injury if it becomes ignored. Plenty of athletes and children try to push through this condition and it normal ends up making the overall outcome worse. If you feel pain in the area then it is advised to ice and rest it, before consulting a practitioner.