Achilles Tendinitis | Strengthen And Heal Painful Achilles
Achilles Tendinitis: Learn To Strengthen And Heal Painful Achilles
Achilles tendinitis can take an athlete out of the game, ruin a training regiment, or keep you out of the gym and on the couch. Worse, pain in the Achilles can impact even the most cautious of athletes. The story of Achilles is one of the best-known Greek myths. The hero Achilles was struck down by a pierce to the heel with an arrow. The aptly named Achilles tendon connects the heel bone to the calf muscle at the back of the ankle and, like in the myth, a painful Achilles can be devastating; even the immortal are not immune to this type of injury.
Who is At Risk to Develop Achilles Tendinitis
Part of improving as an athlete and performing at your best requires pushing yourself to be better, stronger, faster and greater. Of course, overuse and ongoing degeneration are the top causes of Achilles tendinitis.
While the characteristic inflammation and pain in Achilles from tendinitis can take you off your feet for weeks, the good news is that you won’t get Achilles tendinitis from a single injury. Instead, Achilles tendinitis is an injury that builds up overtime with repeated stress on the ankles.
There are additional factors that can put you at higher risk for developing Achilles Tendinitis, including:
- Sudden and significant increase in physical activity. If you’re starting a new training regimen, be especially cautious to allow adequate time for your body to rest and recover between workouts.
- No stretching prior to work outs and insufficient recovery time afterwards puts you at significant risk for Achilles tendinitis. Pay careful attention to stretching, especially if you have tight calf muscles.
- Physical conditions such as a tendency to develop bone spurs or a flat arch can increase your chances of developing a painful Achilles.
Common Symptoms of Achilles Tendinitis
If you haven’t been diagnosed with Achilles tendinitis previously, it can be hard to determine if the pain you are experiencing is tendinitis or something more serious, like a rupture or tear.
The most common symptoms include:
- Swelling at the back of the heel, accompanied by stiffness and pain, especially in the morning.
- Tendon pain that worsens with exercise, especially in the middle of the tendon.
- Reduced range of motion in the ankle, especially with flexion.
If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms that do not improve with rest or recur upon resuming regular activities, you should visit your doctor for X-ray or MRI tests to confirm whether the Achilles tendon has ruptured or partially torn, an injury that may require surgical treatment.
Exercises to Strengthen And Heal Painful Achilles
Primarily, if you are struggling with a painful Achilles, allowing adequate rest time for symptoms tov subside is the most effective way to deal with tendinitis. This can take as long as several months before you will be able to return to high-impact activities. During this rest period, you should introduce cross-training activities that will help you stay active and maintain flexibility and strength in the ankle and leg muscles. The following therapies will help to strengthen calf muscles and reduce stress on the Achillestendon:
- Bilateral/Single-Leg Heel Drop (Eccentric Lowering)
- Isometrics with the Foot and Ankle Complex During Squats, Lunges or Wall Drills
- Self Myofascial Release (Self MFR)
- Achilles Tendon Taping
Additionally, reducing the inflammation of the tendon with ice and anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen and naproxen can provide relief. As the inflammation and pain in the Achilles subsides, you can return to higher impact exercises. As you return to regular activity levels, include isometric activity and stability exercises going forward as a part of your ongoing workout routine to protect your Achilles from future strain.
Don’t Let A Painful Achilles Hold You Back – Get Help From Rehab 2 Perform
If your Achilles tendinitis does not respond to self-treatment in a few weeks, fill out the contact form on our website or call 301-798-4838 to schedule an appointment with the physical therapy team at Rehab 2 Perform in Frederick, MD or Germantown, MD.