Achilles Tendinitis

What is the Achilles Tendon?
  • The Achilles tendon is a large tendon that runs down the back of the leg. It attaches the calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus) to the heel bone
  • It gives you the ability to push off during walking and running

  • During contraction of the calf muscles, tension is placed on the Achilles tendon.
  • Too much repetitive or high force puts excessive tension on the Achilles tendon and this can cause damage
  • This leads to degeneration and inflammation
  • Can occur due to trauma where the high force going through the tendon is more than it can withstand, or due to gradual wear and tear
  • Overload can occur due to one or many of the following;
    - Increase in activity (frequency, intensity or duration)
    - Running on hard or uneven surfaces
    - Tight or weak calf muscles
    - Stiff ankle joint that has reduced range of motion
    - Poor footwear not providing adequate support
    - Poor foot posture and biomechanics leading to excessive stress on the Achilles tendon

  • Can be from mild to severe – can be shooting, burning or intense piercing pain in the back of the heel
  • Pain, swelling, stiffness and weakness of the Achilles tendon
  • It may present where the Achilles tendon attaches on the heel bone or in the mid portion of the tendon about 5cm up from the heel bone
  • Generally painful on walking first thing in the morning or after sitting for extended periods of time

  • In the acute stages : Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation
  • Poor blood supply to the Achilles tendon can mean a long slow rehabilitation
  • Reduce overload of the Achilles tendon:
    - Appropriate stretching and strengthening exercises
    - Modify activity – frequency, intensity or duration
    - Footwear changes suggested by a Podiatrist
    - Fully assess lower limb biomechanics
    - Foot orthotics provided by a Podiatrist
  • A completely ruptured Achilles tendon is most often surgically repaired