In Greek mythology, Achilles was the handsome hero of the Trojan War whose only weakness was his heel.
Named after this mythical hero, the Achilles tendon is a strip that runs from the heel bone up to the calf muscle to help the foot push off the ground when the calf muscle tightens.
It’s a necessity if you want to walk, run or jump, so any type of injury to this vital tendon can disable you just fast as it took old Achilles down.
When that tendon becomes inflamed we call it Achilles tendonitis, which usually occurs where the tendon meets the heel but it can also spread up toward the calf muscle.
Along with the inflammation comes swelling and pain, and it can worsen quickly and even turn into more serious conditions if it isn’t treated.
Achilles tendonitis can be caused by several different problems, many of which have to do with sports and exercise like repetitive stress, direct injury, not stretching enough or improper training techniques. But there can also be physical causes such as an Achilles tendon that is too short, deformities in the heel bone and over-pronation (when the feet roll inward when you walk).
If you love to wear shoes that don’t properly support the foot and heel, they could actually cause Achilles tendonitis, too. (Sorry ladies, four-inch spike heels are not a good idea.) It’s always a good idea to immediately stop wearing the shoes you had on when your Achilles tendon first started hurting, at least until you can see a doctor.
We treat Achilles tendonitis by first reducing the inflammation and pain, then strengthening the tendon while providing the proper support. This might be done through orthotics or just better shoes. We’ll also show you some special stretches you can do to relax the calf muscle and reduce pressure on the Achilles tendon. We might also recommend physical therapy or applying ice. Platelet Rich Plasma Injections (PRP) have also been effective in helping Achilles tendonitis. Additionally our office can offer other regenerative medicine techniques to treat this problem, including our MLS pain laser treatments. These have shown to be effective in helping to bring blood flow and healing properties to the Achilles tendon, which generally does not have great blood supply.
Surgery is only an option when it progresses into Achilles tendonosis, and even then, it’s only in extreme cases.
For many of us, running is essential to our work-out routine. Hitting the pavement with the air under your feet is a great feeling, but there are a few issues we must keep in mind when it comes to running…take care of your Achilles tendon!
There are things you can do to prevent strain or injury to your Achilles tendon.
- Be sure to stretch before running full force! Tight, tired muscles can cause a burden on the Achilles. Also be sure to gradually increase the distance of your runs and do not over-train. You can find some great stretching equipment here.
- Don’t over run hills or do excessive amounts of speed work.
- When it comes to the type of shoe you are running in, be sure to choose one that is flexible enough to move with the Achilles so that it does not have to twist.
- Also, be sure you aren’t moving your feet too far inward on impact! Doing this can cause a greater risk for Achilles tendonitis.
- Protect your Achilles when you’re not running with dressy shoes that have support and make sure your tennis shoes fit properly, too!