Achilles tendonitis/ Strain is located at the back of the leg about 2-8 cm above the heel. The achilles tendon connects the heel to the lower leg muscles. The tendon joins three powerful muscles. The two heads of the gastrocnemius and the soleus. The achilles tendon attaches to the back of the heel bone (posterior aspect of the calcaneus).
Achilles strains are the bane of many runners. This is a common sporting injury that can often become chronic and prevent any form of running. Running needs to be ceased for 7-14 days depending on the severity of the injury with a gradual increase to normal training.
The most common cause of severe achilles tendonitis is to ignore a minor achilles strain and continue your running regime. Sudden speed increases, hill work and ineffective pre and post running stretches can lead to achilles tendonitis. Recent research suggests that certain running shoes can cause achilles tendonitis. If the sole of the shoe is too stiff it can lead to increased calf muscle tension. This tension forces the achilles tendon to worker harder and thus facilitates the injury. Excessive air filled heel cushioning can also aggravate an achilles strain as the heel is being suspended during normal heel strike.
Tight hamstrings, calf muscles and hyper-mobility of the feet (over pronation) also cause achilles tendonitis.
Initial treatment should consist of an ice pack. Some runners prefer to use a wet towel that has been in the fridge. We recommend you use commercially available ice packs for focused pain relief. An anti-inflammatory such as Ibuprofen will help to release the swelling. Please note this should be taken with meals and never before running.
Rest and avoiding over stretching is important. Replacing current running shoes and the use of sports/orthotics and insoles can dramatically improve the healing phase of the injury. Hamstrings and calf muscles also need to be stretched to prevent future occurrences of the condition. Avoid excessive stretching as this may aggravate the condition.
Sit with your injured leg straight and your other leg bent. With your back straight and your head up, slowly lean forward at your waist. You should feel the stretch along the underside of your thigh. Hold the stretch for 10 to 15 seconds. Repeat the stretch six to eight times. This stretching exercise may be helpful for patello-femoral syndrome, patellar tendinitis and hamstring strain.
Stand with your hands against a wall and your injured leg behind your other leg. With your injured leg straight, your heel flat on the floor and your foot pointed straight ahead, lean slowly forward, bending the other leg. You should feel the stretch in the middle of your calf. Hold the stretch for 10 to 15 seconds. Repeat the stretch six to eight times. This stretching exercise
may be helpful for Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis and calcaneal apophysitis.
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