Achilles tendinitis is inflammation of the tendon that connects the calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus) to the heel bone (calcaneus). The condition is usually one that develops over time. It can be due to faulty running or jumping mechanics or repetitive activity. It is a common condition that affects athletes and non-athletes alike.
Some movements that can be painful with Achilles tendinitis include running, jumping, squatting, lunging, lifting form the ground, and walking. Any sort of weight bearing activity may be aggravating.
In our physical therapy office, the first recommendation that we usually make is to take a short break from the aggravating activity. This allows for an environment for the inflammation to settle down and the tendon to heal. While taking a break usually helps with pain, we know for our patients to get back to the activities that they enjoy, we have to address the root of the issue.
In many cases, Achilles tendinitis is coupled with poor mobility of the calf muscles. This can be combined with weakness or stiffness of the intrinsic foot (arch) muscles or stiffness of the first metatarsal joint (big toe).
In addition, if there are imbalances at the core and hip muscles, the way an active person moves can be affected which may lead to faulty running and walking mechanics. However, the only way to know what is contributing to pain and injury is to perform a complete assessment.
When pain and stiffness is found via the assessment, our approach includes manual mobilization to alleviate pain and improve mobility. Improvements can be made very quickly if the right regions are targeted. If weakness is found, we teach activation exercises to help our clients better engage muscles that are not firing well. Once pain is controlled and muscles engage better, our next step is teaching our patients to develop stability though single leg exercises. In addition, eccentric exercises (slow lowering) can be especially powerful for rehabilitating these types of tendon injuries.
When addressed with a through physical therapy assessment and plan of care, Achilles tendonitis is a condition that can resolve relatively quickly. However, any sort of repetitive activity with poor mechanics can become a more serious issue with chronic pain implications. If you feel like you may be developing an Achilles tendon problem, the physical therapists at Movement Solutions would be glad to provide a through assessment and give you a diagnosis for your condition. We are available for a free 15-minute phone consultation to talk about how your pain is affecting you and discuss your treatment options. Call us at (864)558-7346 and ask how we can help.