The achilles tendon is one of the largest and strongest tendons in the human body, and can tolerate loads far beyond our own body weight. The achilles tendon is a continuation of two muscles – the Gastrocnemius and Soleus, they are collectively known as the ‘calf’. The achilles attaches onto the back of the calcaneus (heel bone).
The achilles tendon is constantly under tension regardless of what you are doing. During exercise the achilles tendon (along with the calf muscles) have an ability to stretch an absorb load, that load then utilised in a ‘spring like’ action to aid in propulsion. This is one of the ways the body can achieve ultimate energy efficiency. Injuries to the achilles tendon can occur in the ‘mid-portion’ or ‘insertion’. Both are frustrating injuries, but do require different management plans.
So how does the achilles become injured?
Majority of the time, achilles hurt because it has been overloaded. Yes full and partial ruptures are common, but what we mostly see are people with overloaded achilles tendons. This comes about through placing excessive load through the tendon over a long period of time. The tissue can tolerate excessive load in small spurts, but when it is constantly being overworked, the tissue reaches a ‘threshold’ whereby is cannot keep up, and it breaks down. The symptoms of this type of injury are evident from very early on – you just have to be listening to your body.
The cause of achilles tendinopathies are multifactorial, meaning there is often more than one causative factor. Here are just a few:
- Poor strength – both within the ‘calf’ and entire lower limb
- Poor mobility/flexibility – locally and further up the leg
- Inappropriate/worn out footwear
- Training errors
- Inefficiencies within your biomechanics
What can I do to prevent this from happening?
Simply put, you need to ensure you are putting just as much effort into ‘maintenance’ of the body as you do with your chosen sport/hobby.
- Make sure you give your body ample rest between sessions,
- Work on your muscular strength especially calf/hamstring/glutes/back
- Spend time daily improving your flexibility and mobility
- Make sure you wear appropriate footwear for your sport/hobby
- Address biomechanical inefficiencies
Who can help you?
This does depend on the causative factors who is going to be the best health professional to help you. As Podiatrists, we look at the injury from a holistic point of view and try and understand what is driving the injury – Biomechanics? Footwear? Strength? Mobility? By identifying the causative factors, we can then tailor a management plan around you to get you back being active, healthy, and happy now and into the future.
If you have any specific questions, please feel free to email me on the address below or make an appointment with myself or any of our team members on 1300 945 789