Did you know that the Achilles tendon is the longest and largest tendon in the entire human body? If you don’t think that’s cool enough, it’s also the strongest tendon in the human body! Seriously, that thing can tolerate more than a thousand pounds of pressure. All that being said, it’s also the most commonly injured tendon you have. Sometimes we push that conjoiner of the heel and calf a little too hard, and tendinitis pays an unannounced visit.
So what causes the rupture of this demi-godly tendon? What are the symptoms? How can it be treated? Is there a way to prevent it? Read on to find out!
The Cause of Achilles Tendinitis
As is the case with all tendon or muscular injuries, overuse is usually the cause. High impact workouts that activate the tendon, such as running or jumping, can cause it as well. And high intensity Achilles-pushing sports, especially when done repeatedly, put one at risk too.
It’s not unusual for avid runners and professional athletes to literally run into this problem. But you know who else is highly susceptible to Achilles tendinitis? Middle-aged folks who hit the tennis courts on the weekends. Really, anything involving quick bursts of ankle movement can make the Achilles suddenly “explode”.`
However, while not as common, that sneaky tendinitis can flare up during something as gentle as a light walk. Tendinitis is a real jerk.
Heel pain and tenderness are the most common symptoms, and the intensity can vary from mild to debilitating. Stiffness and swelling in the heel may also occur. Symptoms can also appear in the back of the calf.
- Reduce workout intensity
- Don’t tie forty-pound sandbags to your ankles and go for a run. Just don’t.
- Ice therapy
- Apply a cold pack for 10-15 minutes, 2-4 times per day.
- Your calcaneus, or “heel bone”, is the insertion site of the Achilles tendon. Let your chiropractor adjust the joints surrounding it and get that tendon back in balance!
- Massage therapy
- Sport massage, with all that stretching a manipulation, can be especially helpful!
- Physical therapy
- Strengthening and pain relieving exercises will speed that recovery process up!
- Orthotic devices
- A shoe insert will cushion and relieve stress on the tendon.
What you really want to do is avoid getting surgery. You’re most at risk for undergoing that if you ignore the symptoms and continue to abuse your Achilles. Consult a medical professional if you exhibit symptoms, and stay on top of that self care.
- Strengthening exercises
- I’ll attach a video below of some great Achilles tendinitis stretches! While these are of course helpful for treating tendinitis itself, they’re also good for injury prevention!
- Warming up before stretching
- Muscles and tendons are more pliable when they’re warmed. Consider applying a hot pack to your calves and Achilles tendons before stretching them out.
- Slowly increase training intensity
- If you’ve been sedentary for some time now, don’t throw yourself into HIIT. Your body as a whole, not just the Achilles, will not like you.
- Diversify your workouts
- Make sure your entire body is well balanced. If you’re extra strong in some areas and super weak in others, you probably won’t have proper form when you exercise. Improper form leads to injury. Here’s an article I wrote about that!
- Wear the right shoes
- If they’re too tight, have an awkward arch, or are just downright uncomfortable… get rid of the shoes. Now watch the fun video I posted!
Now you know what to do! Stay happy, healthy, and tell Achilles tendinitis to hit the road!
Author, Licensed Massage Therapist
Katrina Jenkins graduated from Towson University in 2013 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Science and worked as a nurse’s aide briefly before pursuing her true passion. She graduated from the Massage Therapy Institute of Colorado in April 2016 with honors and completed the Touch of Healers Scholarship Program the following summer. She has been a part of the Moyer Total Wellness Team since the summer of 2017.
“Achilles Tendonitis Causes, Treatment, and Prevention.” UPMC Sports Medicine, www.upmc.com/services/sports-medicine/conditions/achilles-tendonitis.
“Achilles Tendonitis.” UCSF Health, www.ucsfhealth.org/conditions/achilles-tendonitis.
Mayo Clinic Staff. “Achilles Tendinitis.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 17 Sept. 2019, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/achilles-tendinitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20369020.
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