An Achilles injury is a devastating event for any athlete, but early diagnosis and treatment can help minimize the time away from sports. One of the key ways to prevent this type of injury in athletes is by finding what causes it so we don't see these injuries again!
What causes Achilles tendonitis?
There are various ways in which Achilles tendonitis can develop. Some are easier to prevent than others. However, being fully aware of them can prevent serious injury in the longer term.
Below are some of the causes of Achilles tendonitis:
- Exercising without a proper warm up
- Sudden intensity increase during exercise
- Calf muscles that have little flexibility or weak
- Sudden intense physical action, like running for the finish line.
What is the best way to treat a sore Achilles tendon?
Those considered to be minor or moderate injuries may heal on their own. To speed the healing process, you can do the following Achilles tendonitis treatments :
- Put ice - you can put ice to your injury for up to 20 minutes as needed.
- You can rest your leg - if possible, using crutches to avoid putting pressure on it.
- Elevate your leg - elevating your leg will lessen the swelling
- You can take anti-inflammatory drugs - anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen and naproxen can reduce the pain and swelling. But you should read and follow the instructions on the label to avoid side effects such as gastric ulcers or bleeding. You should take these types of medicines with food. If possible, consult your doctor first if you have a medical problems or allergies.
How do you treat insertional Achilles tendonitis?
Exercise has the highest degree of evidence to reduce the intensity of insertional Achilles tendonitis. With a wide range of other kinds of treatments, the effects of exercise may be enhanced with nutritional supplements and orthotics.. Other forms of treatment include activity adjustment, changing shoe wear and physical therapy.
If nonoperative treatments have been unsuccessful, an injection may be an option, especially to expedite involvement in an exercise program.
Do braces help Achilles tendonitis?
Usually seen in athletes involved in sports that require sudden changes in speed such as sprinting, jumping, or running, Achilles tendonitis is inflammation of the Achilles tendon and a common consequence of overuse.
Apart from rest, elevation of the foot, and ice, wearing a brace to support your Achilles tendon will significantly help in reducing pain. Regardless if you want to prevent an ankle injury or experiencing severe pain, a brace is a crucial part of the protection to avoid Achilles tendonitis or lessen the pain.
What is the best exercise for Achilles tendonitis?
There are various Achilles tendonitis exercise regimes. They may be recommended for rehabilitation by your doctor. The following are some of the exercises:
- Toe stretch - in this exercise, you have to sit in a chair while extending your affected leg so your heel is on the floor. With your hand, reach for your big toe and pull it up and back for at least 15 to 30 seconds. You can repeat this 2 to 4 times per session multiple times a day.
- Floor stretch - stand and place your hands on the wall about 0.5 meters at shoulder level. Step back with the foot or leg you want to stretch while keeping your leg straight. Lean forward while bending the other leg slightly. Stay in this position for about 15 to 30 seconds and repeat it about 2 to 4 times per session, with a maximum of 5 sessions per day.
- Tiptoes - you can execute this exercise by standing with both legs straight. While your feet are on the floor, shift the weight to the affected leg and lower down. You can use your good leg to help the injured one if needed. You should complete sets of 15 repetitions twice a day.
The Achilles tendon is located at the back of the leg, connecting the calf muscle to the heel bone. Although stretching your tendon can help you in recovering from Achilles tendonitis, experts have warned people to stretch progressively to avoid causing damage.
Dr. Gowreeson Thevendran
Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital