Achilles tendinopathy refers to an injury or wound to the tendon that can cause immense pain and swelling in the region. In most cases, tendinopathy will either be caused by an inflammation in the tendon (tendinitis) or micro tears in the same (tendinosis). The Achilles tendon connects the heel bone to the calf muscle. Hence, an injury in the region can limit an individual’s movement considerably as well. Here are some effective pointers and tips to help deal with the condition better.
Causes and Risk Factors of Achilles Tendinopathy
Achilles tendinopathy is said to affect roughly about 6 in every 100 inactive people. The condition is quite common in athletes who undergo regular training or exercise a lot. Runners in particular, are very susceptible to the condition.
Accordingly, one of the most common causes for Achilles tendinopathy is the excess strain on the Achilles tendon caused by overuse. This can happen due to a sudden increase in running distance or speed, sudden inclusions of high strenuous exercises in normal routines or exercising strenuously immediately after a long break. In some cases, it can also be caused by a sudden contraction or lack of flexibility in the calf muscles.
The risk factors associated with Achilles tendinopathy include improper warm up before exercising, improper exercise routine and improper footwear, etc. Of course, age also plays an important role, with elderly individuals facing higher risks of getting affected by the condition.
Symptoms of Achilles Tendinopathy
Some of the more common symptoms of Achilles tendinopathy include tenderness or stiffness in the Achilles tendon. You may also experience consistent pain the area that will worsen with time. In some cases, the condition can also cause the Achilles tendon to swell considerably, thus limiting movement to a great extent.
Tips to Treat and Prevent Achilles Tendinopathy
One of the best ways to treat as well as prevent Achilles tendinopathy is to follow the PRICE protocol. PRICE translates to Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Following this protocol properly can help relieve the symptoms of Achilles tendinopathy to a great extent.
- Ice Compress
In addition to following the PRICE protocol, you can opt to use ice therapy to treat Achilles Tendinopathy. Placing an ice compress in the affected region for about 15-20 minutes every two hours or so can bring down the pain and inflammation considerably. Regular application of ice compresses can therefore, help you treat Achilles tendinopathy and its symptoms effectively.
Stop doing your regular exercise and switch to something that does not place too much stress on the Achilles tendon. Avoid walking on irregular surfaces and any other activity that is too strenuous. This will help the tendon heal from the injury quickly.
- Warm Ups
It is always considered wise to warm up properly before starting your regular exercise routine. Proper warm up will relax the stiff muscles in your body, including the calf muscles. This, in turn, will increase the flexibility of these muscles and prevent them from tearing or swelling up. You will also need to cool down properly after exercising before resuming normal activities.
Never choose footwear that is uncomfortable. Tight footwear can lead to cramped muscles while loose footwear can lead to accidents while exercising. It is also recommended to change the footwear regularly depending on your exercise routine. This will prevent wear and tear of your Achilles tendon in the long run.
It is considered wise to opt for mild calf strengthening exercises during this period. This will help the Achilles tendon heal from the injury as well as prevent it from getting damaged again. One particular exercise that is very effective for this condition is the flexor digitorum longus. Contracting the flexor digitorum longus muscles during jogging can reduce the strain placed on the Achilles tendon.
Deep tissue massage can also treat Achilles tendinopathy effectively. Massaging the Achilles tendon for about minutes every day can break down the collagen fibers as well as increase blood circulation in the region. This will promote quick healing, thus bringing down the symptoms of Achilles tendinopathy almost instantly.
Achilles tendinopathy is caused by inflammation or tear in the Achilles tendon. In addition to causing redness, inflammation and pain in the area, it can limit movement to a great extent. Achilles tendinopathy can however, be treated effectively with the right combination of rest, exercises and massages.