With the Comrades Marathon taking place on Sunday, I thought it appropriate to look at another injury that commonly affects runners, namely Achilles tendinitis, or inflammation of the Achilles tendon. This is the most common type of tendinitis, affecting the Achilles tendon, which connects the two main calf muscles to the back of the heel.
The following factors may increase one’s chances of developing Achilles tendinitis:
· Tight and weak calf muscles
· Foot deformities affecting the alignment of the foot
· A recent change in running shoes or surface
· A sudden increase in training intensity, either distance, speed or hill work
Due to its position in the body, the Achilles tendon bears a significant amount of force, subjecting it to injuries such as rupture and tendinitis.
Signs and Symptoms
Acute signs and symptoms include the following:
· Burning or aching in the back of the heel
· Increased pain when stretching the calf muscles or rising up onto ones toes
· Tenderness to the touch on the Achilles tendon itself
Chronic signs and symptoms include:
· Pain that is exacerbated by exercise
· Pain that becomes constant
· A thickened tendon
· Pain only on the back outer part of the heel
· Muscle spasms and tightness, combined with reduced flexibility in the calf muscles
· Radiographs may show bony deformities and calcifications
Acute treatment includes ice, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and activity modification. Complete rest for up to three weeks may be necessary in more severe cases. Surgery may be necessary in chronic cases where conservative treatment does not alleviate symptoms.
An appropriate stretching and strengthening programme is essential to prevent recurrence of this injury. Once the acute pain has subsided, consult a Biokineticist to assist you with this programme.
Foundations of Athletic Training: Prevention, Assessment and Management.