5 Ways To Effectively Prevent Achilles Tendonitis
In Greek mythology, when Achilles was a baby, it was predicted that he would die young. To escape the dismal proclamation, his mother Thetis took Achilles to the River Styx, which was believed to offer powers of protection, and lowered his body into the water.
However, since Thetis held Achilles by his heel, the heel did not touch the water of the magical river. Achilles grew up to be a great hero of war who survived countless significant battles. But one day, a poisonous arrow shot at him was lodged in his heel, killing him shortly after.
Poor, poor Achilles!
If you suffer from Achilles tendonitis, you probably feel his pain sometimes. But what exactly is Achilles tendonitis and how can you prevent it?
What Is Achilles Tendonitis?
Achilles tendonitis transpires when the Achilles tendon becomes inflamed due to excessive strain or injury. The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscles to the heel bone, and is located at the back of a person's lower leg. It is the largest tendon in the body and can withstand a great deal, but is still susceptible to injury.
Achilles tendonitis is typically the result of strenuous, high impact exercise, such as running. If ignored, Achilles tendonitis can lead to the tendon tearing or rupturing, and therefore it is important to seek the necessary treatment.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Achilles Tendonitis?
Achilles tendonitis is described as a sharp or dull aching pain along the back of the tendon, generally close to the heel of the foot. Other signs you might be suffering from Achilles tendonitis include decreased ankle flexibility, tenderness on the sides of the tendon, redness or inflammation along the painful area, a lump of scar tissue that can be felt on the tendon, or a popping and cracking sound when the ankle moves.
What Causes Achilles Tendonitis?
Achilles tendonitis is typically caused by a sudden increase of a repetitive activity encompassing the Achilles tendon. The rapid increase in activity puts too much stress on the tendon causing damage to the tendon fibers. As a result of the continuing stress on the tendon, the body is incapable of repairing the injured tissue. The structure of the tendon is then changed, resulting in chronic pain.
Certain athletes are at a high risk for developing disorders of the Achilles tendon. Achilles tendonitis is also common in individuals who are on their feet all day at work, such as waitresses, nurses and laborers.
In addition, people with excessive pronation (flattening of the arch) have a tendency to develop Achilles tendonitis due to the greater demands placed on the tendon when walking. If these individuals wear shoes without adequate stability, their over-pronation could further aggravate the Achilles tendon.
How Can I Prevent Achilles Tendonitis?
There are several things you can do to prevent Achilles tendonitis.
- If you begin to experience pain in your Achilles tendon while being active or exercising, immediately stop the activity.
- Increase your activity level progressively. If you're just starting an exercise program, begin slowly and little by little increase the length of time and intensity of the activity.
- Stay away from activities that put extreme strain on your tendons, such as running up a steep incline. If you take part in a strenuous activity, make sure to stretch and warm up first.
- Choose exercise shoes that provide sufficient cushioning for your heel and should have a firm arch support to help reduce the pressure in the Achilles tendon.
- Take time every day out of your busy schedule to stretch your calf muscles and Achilles tendon in the morning, before exercise and after exercise to maintain flexibility.
- Gradually strengthen your calf muscles to enable the calf and Achilles tendon to better manage the stresses they encounter with activity and exercise.
- Cross-train. Alternate high-impact activities, such as running and jumping, with low-impact activities, such as cycling and swimming.
What Treatments Are Available For Achilles Tendonitis
Achilles tendonitis can span a wide range of severity. In minor cases it is suggested to alter activity level, take anti-inflammatory medicines or use cushions or inserts to reduce impact in the heel area. In more severe cases, surgery may be required to remove inflamed tissue.
Searching For Achilles Tendonitis Relief From An Experienced Ankle And Foot Doctor?
Taking care of your feet and ankles is important to your overall health. In addition to following the above tips, be sure to see a podiatrist at the Integrative Foot & Ankle Centers of Washington located in Kirkland, Everett, Renton and Redmond if you’re dealing with Achilles pain or other foot problems. Call (425) 678-3877 or visit our contact page to get in touch.