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Achilles Tendinopathy – a common running injury

Running is an excellent way to get fit! However, sometimes when we start a new program we can feel little niggles beginning to arise. Achilles tendinopathy is a common injury among runners, especially those who are increasing their training load.

What is the achilles?

The achilles tendon is the biggest and strongest tendon in the body located in the back of the lower leg. The tendon has the capacity to resist large forces. It stems from the calf muscles (the gastrocnemius and soleus) and inserts into the heel of our foot (the calcaneus).

What is Achilles Tendinopathy?

A tendinopathy is a disorder which can happen when there is disrepair and disorganisation within the tendon structure. This can happen when there is excessive load placed on the structure, for example if someone starts running and increases their mileage too quickly.

The effects of overuse, poor circulation, lack of flexibility, gender, and hormonal factors can lead to tendinopathies. The structure of the tendon is disturbed by repetitive strain, causing inflammation. This cumulative microtrauma weakens the tendon, which ultimately leads to tendinopathy, especially if recovery is not allowed.

What are the symptoms?

Morning pain is a hallmark symptom – pain around the achilles tendon when you get up out of bed and walk around. The tendon may also appear to look thicker and be tender to touch. It may be painful to hop and raise yourself up onto your toes.

How can it be managed / treated?
Physiotherapy plays a very important role in the management and rehabilitation of this injury.

  • Load and activity modification will be discussed and planned to keep you as active as possible while allowing the tendon to repair effectively.
  • A progressive return to get you back doing what you want to be doing will also be planned and co-ordinated.
  • Stretches and strengthening exercises are also very important. Specifically eccentric strengthening which is the term given when the muscle is lengthening.  Research has shown this to be beneficial for assisting tendon repair and strengthening for prevention.
  • Shockwave treatment has also been shown to be very effective for Achilles Tendinopathy in the literature, which can also be provided here in the clinic
  • Following your rehabilitation it is helpful to find out what may have contributed to you developing this injury and to put a plan together with your physio on how to minimise the risks of it reoccurring. Your walking or running biomechanics may be a key component. Running analysis and injury prevention screening following your recovery can also be provided here at Peak Physio.

When tendinopathies are picked up at earlier stages your physio rehab can get you back to running sooner than if it is left ignored. If you have a niggling injury, don’t wait – get it sorted today so you can continue your daily activities comfortably. 

To book an appointment you can contact us at info@peakphysio.ie, 016670111 or book online.

Peak PhysioAchilles Tendinopathy – a common running injury
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