A-Z of Injuries: A for Achilles Tendonitis

 By Ceira Kinch, Osteopath

Ok, so here we go with Achilles Tendonitis, the first in our series of the A – Z of Injuries (to be published fortnightly).  Let’s see how many you recognise and how many of you are either currently suffering with, or have just got over, an episode of each one – comments welcome.  Also, If you have any tips for fellow sufferers out there please feel free to comment below!

By the way, we haven’t strictly filled up all of the letters (A-Z) yet with injuries or conditions so if you have any suggestions about certain topics that you would like to know more about then let us know (particularly the obscure letters at the end!).


Where and What is it?

You may have heard of the Greek demigod Achilles, who was killed by an arrow to the ankle because it was the only part of him that wasn’t dipped in the enchanted water that protected him.  Hopefully this gives you an idea.  If not, then the diagram below shows the area we are discussing.

achilles

So, now you know where it is, let’s move on to what it is.  The Achilles tendon is made up of a blend of two muscles that make up the calf called the Gastrocnemius and the Soleus, this then connects the muscles to the heel.  In Achilles Tendonitis the tendon becomes inflamed, sore and swollen.  The tendon moves smoothly through a tunnel of connective tissue the majority of time but in Achilles tendonitis there can be a number of reasons that cause an increase in friction in the area, which then leads to the painful symptoms


That’s What I have – So…. what can I do about it?

As mentioned before, there can be a number of triggers for the pain in Achilles tendonitis including: overuse/overtraining, footwear, tight muscles, plantar fasciitis, or a combination of them all:

  • Overuse/Over-training – the best solution is to rest! I know it’s frustrating but the symptoms can linger on for months if you don’t nip it in the bud.
  • Footwear – it may be time to upgrade your shoes!  If there is not enough cushioning between your foot and the ground then the impact can cause Achilles Tendonitis.  Be careful if you are only training on hard ground all the time or constantly running uphill, try and mix up your routine.
  • Tight Muscles – Stretch, particularly the calf muscles and hamstring muscles of the same leg and a nice stretch for the underneath of your foot – there’s a pull acting both ways on the tendon.
  • Plantar Fasciitis – If you are receiving treatment already for this then you may have been recommended a heel raise to put into your shoe.  This will take the pressure off both the bottom of your foot and your calf.

How Osteopathy can help

Well, firstly, your osteopath can tailor all of this advice individually to you and to your lifestyle.  Osteopaths will use a number of different techniques to try and relieve the tension that is occurring around the ankle joint and ultimately causing the Achilles tendonitis.  This may include articulation of the foot and ankle, stretching and soft tissue massage, manipulation (if necessary) and some osteopaths may also use ultrasound therapy.

Further information is available from our Osteopaths.