Achilles tendon pain, commonly known as Achilles Tendinopathy, is one of the most common presenting conditions at Waterford Chartered Physiotherapy Clinic. The achilles tendon is a large tendon at the back of your heel which merges with the calf muscles and is very commonly injured in activities such as running, dancing and gymnastics. Achilles Tendinopathy can become very severe if left untreated and people are often very debilitated by the time they reach our practice.
There can be a multitude of factors which can cause Achilles Tendinopathy. These include:
Overload can occur when a person suddenly increases their activity levels over a short period of time. This may include a sedentary person who suddenly starts walking for an hour everyday or a sportsperson who adds a new component to their training without phasing it in. The results of overloading the achilles tendon in such a manner can be sudden onset of achilles tendon pain which can be very disabling.
Prevention Tip: Gradually increase exercise frequency and intensity. Phase in new exercises to your current programme.
Tight Calf Muscles
Having tight calf muscles and then increasing your exercise levels (even if gradual) can cause injury to the achilles tendon.
Prevention Tip: Follow a calf muscle stretching program.
Weak Achilles Tendon/Calf Muscles
Your achilles tendon/calf muscles are often not strong enough to withstand the stress of an increase or change in your exercising regime.
Prevention Tip: Follow an eccentric strengthening program.
Altered Foot Biomechanics
Both people who have very flat arches and a tendency for their feet to roll inwards (over-pronated) and those who have very high arches and a tendency for their feet to roll outwards (supinated) can be predisposed to achilles tendinopathy due to excessive stress on the tendon.
Prevention: Correct footwear can often address altered foot biomechanics and help prevent achilles tendon injury. Some people may also need orthotics if their altered foot biomechanics need more than just a supportive shoe.
These are some of the main causes of achilles tendon pain which we encounter in our clinic and following the above advise should help you avoid sustaining such an injury!