Don’t let tendon pain be your Achilles heel!

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The Achilles is the largest tendon in your body and because of its location injuries are common. Small micro tears in the tendon can be caused by many factors, including an increase in training load, changing your training surface e.g. moving from road to sand, poor form or shoes that don’t support running. Tears can also be brought on by a change in routine like increasing your speed or hill training.

The body does its best to heal these micro tears, but the Achilles is often damaged further by more exercise. Over time, the tendon weakens, loses its strength and becomes swollen and painful. This makes standing on it, let alone exercising, difficult.

If you’ve injured your Achilles, you’re likely to experience one or more of these symptoms:

  • Gradual onset of pain over the Achilles region

  • Swelling and tenderness on firm touch to the Achilles region

  • Morning pain and stiffness when getting out of bed

  • Thickening of the tendon on the painful side

  • Initial pain when you start activity then reduced pain when the tendon warms up

  • Pain when running, hoping, jumping or walking

Your Physio can help get you back on track. Techniques include:

  • Massaging the tendon to realign the damaged tendon fibres

  • Acupuncture to increase blood flow to the tendon to promote healing

  • Mobilization of the foot and ankle joint to ensure the foot is moving properly during activity

  • Taping of the Achilles to provide support

  • Heel raises to take the pressure off the Achilles during activity and calf stretches to lengthen the tendon

A Physio can also provide you with an accelerated strengthening programme to help you regain strength and remodel the tendon to get rid of the micro tears. This will ensure the pain doesn’t return.

Tips to reduce your pain

There are things you can do on your own to help heal your Achilles, but if your symptoms last more than two weeks, please seek the advice of one of our fully qualified Physios.

  • Shoes only last 1000 kilometres, so if your current pair are old you need to invest in a replacement pair

  • Reduce the amount of training to give the tendon time to heal and rest

  • Stick to the flat and leave the hills until you’re healed

  • Substitute off-road for on-road running so that your Achilles has an even surface

  • You can continue training but if your pain sneaks above a 3/10, reduce your activity or rest more frequently

If you’re suffering from heel pain, and would like to return to living your busy urban lifestyle, click below to make an appointment or call 09 216 7799 to discuss how The Urban Physio can support your wellness and get you back up and running.