Do you suffer from Achilles tendinitis? In Greek mythology, Achilleus died in battle after being hit in the Achilles by an arrow within battle. He often complained of sharp pain during activity, dull achy pain afterwards and stiffness in the morning…. Does that sound familiar?
Achilles tendinitis/ tendinopathy is a breakdown of the cell matrix and the collagen within the tendon. The Achilles tendon is a tough band of fibrous tissue that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone (calcaneus). The Achilles tendon is also called the calcaneal tendon. The Achilles attaches itself on to the calcaneal bone in the bottom of the foot and goes half way up the calf before reaching the myotendinous junction (MTJ). The MTJ is the site of connection between tendon and muscle where the contraction of the gastrocnemius sends the force generated from the contraction transmits the force towards tendon through the help of proteins.
Now, what would happen if a constant contraction over time kept generating force towards the tendon? According to Cook and Purdum (2009), conducted a study which researched 3 3 stages to this continuum which was depended on previous cases who had a recurring or previous tendinitis. These 3 stages are Reactive tendinopathy, tendon disrepair and the degenerative tendinopathy. All 3 stages represent the way the tendon would react to being overused on a time scale of acute or chronic.
The Achilles tendon is the largest and strongest tendon in the body. When the calf muscles flex, the Achilles tendon pulls on the heel. This movement allows us to stand on our toes when walking, running, or jumping. Frequent activity (running or walking) can gradually inflame the end of the Achilles tendon, causing pain and stiffness at the back of the heel. In certain cases, the tendon can gradually thicken without apparent inflammation, due to aging or overuse. Despite the thickening, the tendon is weakened and prone to further injury or rupture. However, with the correct identification of which stage of the tendon by a doctor or physical therapist, the process can be reversed or complete recovery. General guidelines for the treatment are;
• The use of RICE (Rest, Ice, compression, elevation) as rest and icing the tendon is important to allowing the Achilles to heal without any load being added.
• Sports massage or foam rolling as this will target the build up of tight knots within the local musculature and therefore release some tension
• If seeking help from a certified medical professional, they would use electrotherapy/ ultrasound to excite the cells within the tendon to encourage the healing process.
• Further rehabilitation would be need such an increasing flexibility and improving eccentric strengthening.
Give this blog a read and if you know anyone with this injury or may have some similar signs and symptoms.
If you’d like to educate yourself further about these tendon pathologies, then here’s the journal below
Cook, J. L., & Purdam, C. R. (2009). Is tendon pathology a continuum? A pathology model to explain the clinical presentation of load-induced tendinopathy. British journal of sports medicine, 43(6), 409-416. Enjoy 😊