Achilles Tendonitis

What is it?


Achilles Tendonitis is a condition that causes pain, swelling and stiffness of the Achilles tendon. It occurs most commonly in runners who have suddenly increased the intensity or duration of their runs. The pain is worse during and after activity, and if aggravated, will be stiffer the next day due to the swelling.


Why would I suffer with this?


There are a number of reasons why you may have injured the Achilles tendon, aside from increasing the intensity and duration of your runs. These include tightness in the calf muscle, excessive pronation at the ankle, repeated stress and strain in endurance runs, poor supportive footwear, poor muscle control and poor joint function. It is vital hip, knee, ankle and foot mechanics is assessed, as this could be one of the reasons for injury.


What you can do


Ensure you take the load off the injury, apply a cold pack for 15 minute intervals and elevate to reduce swelling. Kinesio taping can be helpful to reduce swelling and support the muscle. Manual therapy is particularly useful to determine the extent of injury and to accelerate the healing process.


Swimming and cycling can be useful to maintain cardiovascular fitness and for active recovery, as long as it is pain free. Gentle dynamic and static stretching will help with flexibility to off load the injured tendon.


The next step is to address the reason why the injury occurred in the first place, otherwise it is very likely re-injury will occur. 


Preventative steps to re-injury


Is it vital the injury is treated by a manual therapist. Reason being, tendons have a very limited blood supply which restricts healing. If left to resolve on its own, the tendon will be weak and you risk re-injury as soon as you start to load it.


Other areas to consider are hip/knee/ankle and foot mechanics, from weakness to limited mobility. Appropriate footwear to support your individual ankle and foot function, which then could involve orthotics to further help.


A very progressive return to running is advised. This will give you some feedback to see if the injury is better and to refine the connection between the brain and leg for efficient loading.

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