This article has been written by Islington’s Angel Sports Injury and Physiotherapy Clinic’s physiotherapist and looks at:
• Anatomy of the Achilles tendon
• Causes of Achilles tendinopathy
• Signs and symptoms of Achilles tendinopathy
Achilles tendinopathy is a common overuse running injury but it is also the most common tendon to rupture. This is more common as a result of jumping and can feel like a sudden kick in the back of the ankle and this needs urgent medical attention.
Anatomy of Achilles tendon
The Achilles tendon joins the two calf muscles, Soleus and Gastrocnemius to the anklebone, the calcaneus. The action of the Achilles tendon is to contract suddenly on the toe off phase during walking to propel the body forward. At that stage it pushes the total weight of the body away from the ground and therefore takes a lot of force. Obviously the faster this movement takes place the more force on the tendon and the increase in likelihood of injury
Achilles tendinopathy can occur just above the insertion into the anklebone or it can occur higher up the tendon towards the calf muscle. There is no prediction as to where the tendonitis can appear but it can be acute, follows on during and straight after training or it can be a chronic condition and not go away on rest.
Causes of Achilles tendinopathy
There are a variety of potential causes of Achilles tendinopathy but like a lot of injuries taking on too much physically too soon is a frequent factor. The chance of Achilles tendinopathy just like other injuries can be diminished by a gradual increase in physical activity.
• Increase in level activity
• Not allowing enough recovery between activities.
• Inappropriate footwear during activity.
• Weak calf muscles.
• Tight calf muscles not allowing the ankle to move through its full range of motion.
• Running up hill
• Flat feet or overpronation or instability in the ankle joint during running allowing the feet to roll in.
• Wearing high heels constantly shortens the tendon and calf muscles so when exercising in flat running shoes, the tendon is stretched beyond its normal range causing strain.
Signs and symptoms of Achilles tendinopathy
• Pain and stiffness in the Achilles tendon worse in the morning.
• Pain along the Achilles tendon or in the back of the heel worse during activity
• Severe pain the day after exercising
• Thickening of the tendon
• Bone spur (insertional tendinitis) visible on x-ray
• Swelling that is present all the time and gets worse throughout the day with activity
Other running injury related articles
If you suffer from pain in the back of your ankle during exercise or the day following exercise you may be developing Achilles tendinopathy and this may lead to rupture of the tendon. If this is familiar to you arrange an appointment with our physiotherapist in Islington at the Angel Sports Injury and Physiotherapy Clinic by clicking below.