The Achilles tendon attaches the calf muscles in the posterior lower leg to the back of the heel (Calcaneus). There are two calf muscles, the Gastrocnemius and Soleus. These strong muscles allow us to rise up on our toes making them prime muscles used in walking and running.
Achilles tendon pain is usually due to small tears in the tendon which can develop over time. This may occur due to a single incident of overstretching or straining the tendon, or through general overuse where the tendon becomes worn and damaged.
- Poor foot bio mechanics, tight calf muscles, poor tensile strength through the tendon and calf muscles
- Over training
- Incorrect footwear
Achilles tendonopathy is a common complaint and those susceptible include runners as well as football, basketball, tennis and squash players.
Achilles symptoms include pain in the Achilles tendon, heel or lower calf. Tenderness to pressure and redness and swelling are common. There may be difficulty rising up onto your toes, particularly when standing on one leg.
Early physical therapy treatment for this problem is vital as it can become difficult to resolve the longer the injury goes untreated. Full rehabilitation is important to achieve an optimum outcome and prevent re occurrence.
Physical therapy treatment of Achilles tendonopathy may incorporate:
- evaluation of the knee and hip muscle balance and bio mechanics
- soft tissue release to tight calves
- guidance on appropriate stretches and strengthening exercises
- advice on footwear and training
Referral to a podiatrist may be appropriate if foot bio mechanics are an issue.
Advantage physical therapists see this injury frequently, particularly in the summer when people are out and about more, running on hard concrete surfaces, or even running on soft sand. Do not let this injury go untreated as it can become a chronic problem very easily.