A Common Overuse Injury of the Achilles Tendon
When Pain Affects Every Step
Achilles Tendonitis is a painful condition often caused by excessive walking or exercise, exercise without a proper warmup, or wearing shoes that are little support or are too old. When you have Achilles Tendonitis you experience mild to severe pain and swelling in the back of your heel reaching up into the back of your ankle.
What is it?
Achilles Tendonitis is a common overuse injury of the Achilles Tendon. (Your Achilles tendon attaches your calf muscles to your heel bone.) Symptoms of Achilles Tendonitis can include pain the back of the heel, swelling the in the back of the heel, a mild ache or severe pain in the back of the leg or above the heel after running or other sports activity, limited range of motion when flexing the foot, and the skin on heel overly warm to the touch.
What Causes it?
Causes for Achilles Tendonitis include excessive walking or exercise, exercising without warming up properly, wearing shoes that are old, wearing shoes that don’t fit well, and playing sports which require quick stops along with changing direction such as tennis. Wearing shoes that are too soft and lack support is a major contributor to the condition of Achilles Tendonitis. This condition can also be caused by the rapid transition from high heels to flat shoes.
What Can I do?
Home treatment of Achilles Tendonities can prove effective, but if you do not see improvement with home treatment, make sure to see a medical professional. If you are experiencing severe pain and your ability to walk is limited it may indicate the possibility of a tear in the Achilles tendon.
For home treatment, the RICE method can help considerably with the swelling and pain. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.) Stay off of your feet as much as possible for 1 or 2 days and take a longer break from the activity that may be causing the pain or soreness. The tendon will heal faster if you can avoid putting strain on it and use a compression bandage. Apply an ice pack for 10 to 20 minutes at least 3 times daily. This should help to reduce the swelling. Elevate your feet while applying ice and any time that you are sitting or lying down. Keeping your feet above the level of your heart will help to minimize the swelling.
You can prevent Achilles Tendonitis and other injuries with supportive footwear. It is a good idea to always choose your shoes carefully and make sure they have proper support. The shoes you wear while exercising should provide light cushioning for your heel and should have a firm arch support to help reduce the tension in the Achilles tendon. If you can bend your shoe in half it is a good indication that your shoe is not giving you the support you need to prevent injury. It is also important to replace shoes that are old or worn out and no longer give proper support.
Another way to help prevent this and overuse injury is by stretching and warming up before you exercise or play sports. It is important to increase your activity level gradually. If you are just beginning an exercise regimen, start slowly and gradually increase the duration and intensity of the training.
For those who constantly wear high heels, it it important to reduce the heel size of shoes gradually when transitioning from high heels to flats. This allows the tendon to slowly stretch and increase its range of motion.