Achilles Tendonitis : Running Injuries

It is hardly surprising that runners tend to suffer from lower body injuries because the legs are put under so much strain during running. Overworked and overstretched muscles can become strained, torn or even ruptured.

Where is the Achilles Tendon?

The Achilles tendon is found in the back of the lower leg and connects the lower part of the calf muscle to the back of the heel. It is the largest tendon in the entire body and is capable of supporting our full body weight. Its role is to help us to walk or run.

What Causes Achilles Tendonitis?

The Achilles tendon can become weakened if it is overexerted on a regular basis. This can lead to inflammation, which makes the Achilles tendon unstable and more vulnerable to injury. Achilles Tendonitis often occurs a result of runners leaving a minor strain untreated and continuing to train. If left untreated, it may end up getting much worse and the tendon could rupture completely. Over-pronation (rolling the foot inwards too much when running) is a common cause of Achilles Tendonitis. Having tight hamstrings and calf muscles also makes the tendon more prone to injury. Another potential cause of Achilles Tendonitis is wearing shoes that have very stiff soles. This increases the tension in the calf muscle and forces the Achilles tendon to work too hard, which increases the likelihood of injury.

What does Achilles Tendonitis Feel Like?

The back of the heel will be painful and tender to touch. The pain gets worse during exercise and the heel will probably be very stiff the morning after sustaining the injury.

What Can You do to Prevent Achilles Tendonitis?

It is important to take the time to warm up properly before running and stretch the calf muscles and hamstrings. You are more likely to develop an injury if your muscles are too tight. Stick to a sensible training regime and don’t overdo it. Not overworking the Achilles tendon and giving it time to recover between training sessions will lessen the chances of it becoming damaged.

Treating Achilles Tendonitis

Applying ice wrapped in a cloth to the heel or wrapping a wet towel that has been cooled in the fridge around the foot will reduce pain and inflammation. You may also be advised to bind the heel in protective strapping, which will take the pressure off the Achilles tendon. It is important to rest to allow the tendon to heal properly. Doing too much too soon after becoming injured may end up aggravating the problem. Physiotherapy exercises that focus on calf muscle and hamstring stretches will help to restore the Achilles tendon’s strength and stability. If the tendon is completely ruptured, surgery may be necessary to extract the damaged parts of the tendon and help it to regain its full strength.

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