How to Overcome Achilles Tendonitis

Achilles Tendonitis (more correctly referred to as Achilles Tendinosis or Achilles Tendinopathy) is an overuse injury that develops in the tendon just above the heel that connects the calf muscle to the heel.  Its function is to allow the body to perform a calf raise (up onto toes).

The symptoms of this condition that we see at Life Ready Physio are normally felt as pain just above the back of the heel in what often feels like a nodule in the thick band that is the tendon.

Most importantly this injury does not respond well to pain and if you push through severe pain you risk rupturing the tendon which may require surgery to repair.  If you are getting pain in this area in your training for the Chevron City to Surf for Activ we strongly recommend you head in to see a physiotherapist at one of the Life Ready Physio clinics in Perth to be assessed properly.

Cause of the injury is most often due to repetitive strain from a reoccurring load on the tendon that is above what it is able to handle.  Increased load on the tendon may be caused by varying reasons, the most common being improper mechanics with walking and/or running.

If you refer to the photo of the legs from behind, the lines represent the angle of the lower leg versus the angle of the foot.  If these are in proper alignment (neutral) the lines will match up to create and even pull through the tendon.  When the ankle is rolled outward (supination) or inward (pronation) it creates increased load on the tendon with each step that with time can accumulate to create and overuse injury.

Another main factor in Achilles Tendinitis is increased activity levels  (like your Chevron City to Surf for Activ training!).  Often times an Achilles is adapted to undergo a certain amount of load but when the load increases too quickly it will become aggravated.  A slow increase in this load will usually be tolerated well but if activity levels increase too quickly injury can occur.  This is why following a proper program to increase distance and speed is important.

When injury occurs to the Achilles it is best treated by increasing the load on the tendon as tolerated through exercise.  Exercises that are most effective are calf raises.  When the load is incrementally increased without pain the tendon improves in its ability to bear more load.  This in combination with correcting ankle position and any other biomechanical faults in running are techniques that help to reduce the load on the tendon.