What is the achilles
The achilles is a tendon, it start from where muscles from the calf become a hard, tough fibrous tissue called tendon and inserts into the heel bone, the anchor point for the muscles.
Function; The anchor for muscles to attach to bone.
Understanding the fact its an anchor point is important for recovery and rehabilitation.
Via the action of the muscles it allows ankle movement particularly plantar flexion (pointing the toes down)
Achilles tendonitis is an inflammatory response to injury to the achilles tendon.
Symptoms; commonly dull or sharp pain into the tendon along the fibres with inflammation around the area, if the tissue has been injured previously there can be a lumpy nodule which is scar tissue build up, formed as part of the recovery process. If there has been previous injuries without good recovery or treatment there can be a permanent thickening in the injured area.
How is it injured?; As the tendon is the anchor point for the calf muscles you need to consider the force its placed under from the muscles that create too much stress and strain causing it to tear, depending on the force and action depends on the severity.
Influencing factors are the type of activity, technique, weight, speed, distance, ankle dysfunction as well as poor pre/post workout activities.
What to do;
Firstly stop all exercise and activity that places stress onto the achilles, the initial action is to reduce the pressure on the achilles, if there is a rupture surgical intervention my be required.
See you Doctor to help manage any pain and inflammation with medication, if you struggle to get to your Doctor visit the pharmacist.
Tendons require time to repair, avoid strenuous activities for two weeks to allow the healing process.
Ice the injury for 10-15 minutes at intervals this can be 2 times every hour for the first 3 days.
Return to exercise ideally should be after assessment from your therapist such osteopath, physiotherapist or chiropractor, particularly if there is no response in the first two weeks.
Return to activity should be gradual over a 6 – 8 week period.
Some non weight bearing exercise can be a great way to start the rehabilitation such as swimming, pool running and easy cycling.
To prevent re injury and assist rehabilitation you need to consider the influencing factors of why it happened. Strength, flexibility and mobility need to be worked into the recovery process with some massage to the surrounding muscles and joint mobility work.
Ideally speak to your coach, therapist or rehabilitation therapist to attain the best recovery possible.
And if you start getting twinges, stop all activities, get an assessment and treatment.