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Painful Heel or Back of the Ankle? You may be suffering from Achilles Tendinopathy.

The Achilles tendon is a thick strong tendon that is formed by the two calf muscles – Gastrocnemius muscle (the large thick calf muscle) and the Soleus muscle (the smaller deeper muscle).

The tendon attaches into the back of the heel bone called the calcaneus.  The tendon is encased in a sheath enabling it to transmit forces to and from the foot.   When running, the tendon can be subjected to loads that are three times the body weight.  It is not surprising that it is considered to be the strongest tendon of the body.  This sheath helps reduce friction there.  The tendon has a poor blood supply which makes recovery from injury slow.

Signs and Symptoms of Achilles Tendinopathy

  • Pain in the mid portion of the tendon although it can be any area along its length as well as at the insertion.
  • Pain with contraction of calf muscles during running, jumping, walking or on stairs.
  • Stiffness after prolonged inactivity.
  • Stiffness and pain during first steps in the morning, which eases with movement through the day.
  • Pain during warm up of activity, for example in running.  This eases as exercise continues but may increase with prolonged activity or within 24 hours after running.  As the condition worsens, the pain can be present for a longer period of time.
  • Reduced calf strength.

What could cause Achilles Tendinopathy

  • Previous Achilles tendinopathy.
  • Calf muscle tightness.
  • Increase in training especially on hard surfaces.
  • Change in footwear or inappropriate footwear.

Treatments for Achilles Tendinopathy

At Janet Brandt-Sarif Physiotherapy we will assess the stage of your injury.  Tendinopathies can be as a result of the degeneration of the collagen fibres of the tendon.   The recovery you can expect is dependent on the amount of degeneration.  Physio is aimed at assessing, reducing and modifying the  risk factors followed by rehabilitation to improve the success rate of treatment and return to sport without recurrences.  We will also start you on a strengthening program including eccentric exercises which research shows has good results in rehabilitation of Achilles tendinopathy.

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