Achilles Tendinitis is a nagging condition that causes pain along the back of the leg through the Achilles tendon. It commonly occurs in runners who have suddenly increased the intensity or duration of their runs.
The Achilles is the large tendon connecting your calf muscles to the heel bone. Achilles Tendinitis is a common overuse condition where the tendon tightens and is forced to work too hard. The tendon becomes inflamed, and if left untreated can begin to produce scar tissue. Achilles Tendinitis is characterized by a dull or sharp pain anywhere along the tendon. Most commonly, the pain will be felt closest to the heel.
If you start to feel Achilles pain, stop running and start working out the root cause of the problem. Achilles Tendinitis is commonly caused by:
- Foot biomechanics (example: fallen arches or overpronation) causing your feet to rotate too far inward on impact, rigidity in the ankle joint and limited subtalar joint mobility can also be culprits
- Tight or fatigued calf muscles transferring too much of the burden to the Achilles
- Stepping up your level of physical activity too quickly (remember the 10% rule)
- Wearing high heels, which increases the stress on the tendon
If you are experiencing Achilles pain, ice the tendon for 15-20 minutes. Repeat this several times a day until the inflammation subsides. Once the nodule is gone, you should:
- Try low-impact activities like cycling and swimming
- Adding insoles to your gear (see Tommy's story)
- Increase activity gradually
- Stretch daily
Although most Achilles injuries can be fixed at home, in more serious cases surgery is required. If your Achilles doesn't seem to be getting better after a week go to a doctor. It could be a sign of a rupture.
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