The Achilles tendon is a fibrous band of tissue that links the muscles in your calf to your heel. The strength and flexibility of this tendon are important for jumping, running, and walking. Your Achilles tendon bears a lot of stress and pressure during everyday activities, as well as during athletic and recreational play
Achilles tendon injuries can occur as a result of age, overuse and other underlying problems, such as arthritis that weakens the tendon and makes it susceptible to tears and injury
Who is at risk for Achilles tendon injuries?
Anyone can develop an Achilles tendon injury. They’re often linked to repetitive stress. The most common risk factors are:
- Increased amount or intensity of an activity or sport
- Starting a new sport
- Tight calf muscles when starting an exercise or sport, which can place more stress on your tendon
- Bone spurs on your heel, which can rub against the tendon
- Wearing the wrong shoes when you exercise
- Exercising on an uneven surface
Common symptoms of tendon injuries include:
- Pain down the back of your leg or near your heel
- Pain that gets worse when you’re active
- A stiff, sore Achilles tendon when you first get up
- Pain in the tendon the day after exercising
- Swelling with pain that gets worse as you’re active during the day
- Thickening of your tendon
- Bone spurs on the heel bone
- Difficulty flexing the affected foot
- A pop sound and sudden sharp pain, which can mean a ruptured tendon
TIPS TO PREVENT ACHILLES TENDON INJURIES
1. Stretch and strengthen
Stretch your calf regularly by pulling your toes toward your shin or by standing with your heels hanging off the edge of a stair. Hold for 15-30 seconds at a time. Foam rolling your calf can also loosen the muscles and prevent undue tension from straining your Achilles tendons.
Calf strengthening exercises, such as seated or standing calf raises, can make it so your muscles and tendons are able to absorb a greater amount of force to help prevent injury. Talk to our doctors about the right exercises for you.
2. Increase workouts slowly
Increasing the number of miles you run or the intensity of your workouts too quickly can raise the risk that you’ll injure your Achilles tendons. Increase your workouts gradually, adding about 10% more intensity, duration, or distance each week. Doing too much too soon is a recipe for pain and injury.
Always warm up before workouts with a 5-10 minute jog, brisk walk, or a series of jumping jacks and lunges. This will increase circulation to your Achilles tendons and calf muscles, which will help them sustain the work ahead of them.
3. Wear the right footwear
Opt for running or athletic shoes that have good cushioning in the heels. Also, get your gait checked at a local running store. Getting the right footwear will allow you to exercise and move around in shoes that will give your feet the right support and thereby minimize your risk of strain. And when your shoes start to wear out, replace them so you can maintain good support.
And, if you do run, choose the surface carefully. Opt for a trail or track rather than cement . Running on cement can increase your risk of straining your Achilles tendons.
4. Mix up your workouts
If you run, dance, or do kickboxing, your joints and tendons can take a beating, especially your Achilles tendons. Make a few of your weekly workouts low-impact to give your body a break. Swim or use the elliptical trainer or rowing machine to still get a workout without risking injury to your Achilles tendons.
5. Rest at the first sign of pain
If you notice a mild ache, stiffness, or throbbing in the back of your heel and ankle, take a couple days off from running or other high-impact activity until the soreness resolves. Pushing through the pain may irritate the tendon more and increases the risk that you’ll experience long-term tendinitis.
If you have any foot or ankle issues, book an appointment with our physiotherapists today.
Chiropractic & Physiotherapy Health Centre