At Superior Foot & Ankle Care Center a condition that we frequently see in both experienced athlete’s and “weekend warriors” is Achilles tendonitis. The Achilles tendon, also known as the heel cord, is a band of tissue that runs down the back of your lower leg, connecting your calf muscle to your heel bone. Although it is the strongest tendon in the body, it is also one of the most frequently injured. Inflammation of the Achilles tendon, known as Achilles tendonitis is an overuse injury which is caused by putting too much stress on the tendon too abruptly. If left untreated, the ongoing stress to the tendon prevents the body from repairing the injured tissue and the result is a continued pain. Below are some strategies for avoiding this common podiatric disorder:
- Slow and steady wins the race. And, it helps prevent Achilles tendonitis, too. If you have been inactive for a period of time and wish to resume or start a new exercise program, begin slowly. Gradually increase the length and intensity of your activity.
- Don’t choose pain before gain. Even experienced athletes can experience Achilles distress if they decide to significantly increase the difficulty of their workout. Running hills and stair climbing puts particular strain on the Achilles tendon and should not be suddenly increased.
- Stretch it out. One of the best ways for anyone to head off an Achilles tendon problem is by stretching. Exercises that specifically help to stretch and strengthen your calf muscles will help avoid tendonitis.
- Get some support. Patients with flat feet have a higher risk for Achilles tendonitis because as the arch flattens it increases the strain on the Achilles tendon and calf muscles. Be sure the shoes you wear (both on and off the field) have adequate arch support. Our podiatrists, Victoria Foley, and Dr. Constance Omelas may suggest a custom orthotic device to wear in your shoes for added support.