If you have found this article when searching for Achilles Tendonitis then you might be somewhat confused to find the term Achilles Tendinopathy here.
That is because the term Achilles Tendonitis does not really exist despite many runners believing they have suffered from the condition.
Here is a quote from Jason Fitzgerald’s blog about this confusion:
“There is no such thing as Achilles tendonitis. The definition of “-itis” implicates that a part of the body is swollen and inflamed, but the Achilles tendon is incapable of swelling (the bursae – a tiny fluid filled sac between the Achilles and the heel can swell, but that’s different). Instead of Achilles tendonitis, we should call it Achilles tendinopathy. Basically, the tendon is weak and dysfunctional, and thus compromised.”
Now that we have a better understanding of the true medical term for the condition, lets explore it in a little more detail.
Causes of Achilles Tendinopathy?
There does not appear to be a single cause for this condition but there are a number of areas that many runners have highlighted as putting them at risk of achilles injuries.
Training with tight or fatigued calves muscles can lead you to putting extra pressure on the achilles which in turn can lead to injury. To avoid this avoid training when your calves feel fatigued and ensure you stretch properly before your run.
Another area for consideration is over-training or increasing your mileage before your body is ready. Make sure you know the limits of your body and whilst you should not be afraid to push yourself to hit new goals, be careful not to push yourself too far.
For those of you that do hill running on a regular basis or who do a lot of speed workouts this puts you in the higher risk bracket for achilles injuries due to the extra strain you put on the tendon when running up hill or at speed.
Finally, if you have recently bought a new pair of running shoes and started to notice achilles pain, the running shoes may not be flexible enough and force your achilles to twist when running.
How to prevent Achilles Tendinopathy?
The easiest way to prevent serious achilles injuries is to ensure you stop running if you notice pain in the area as continuing to run on your injury could make it a lot worse and will stop you running for a while until healed.
If you do a lot of hill sprints and speed work then consider scaling it back a little if you start to notice pain in the achilles.
The most obvious way to prevent serious injuries in the achilles is to stretch properly before your run! Hopefully you are doing this already, if not start from now!
To to treat Achilles Tendinopathy?
If you do suffer from Achilles Tendinopathy then treatment is a fairly straight forward process.
First you should take an aspirin or ibuprofen and ice the achilles for around 15-20 minutes to help any inflammation.
You should stop running until the injury has fully healed else you are likely just going to be extending your time off from running by trying to come back too soon and further aggravating the injury.
You should continue to ice the achilles for around 10-15 minutes a day to help the healing process and rest as much as possible until the pain goes away and you are able to walk without any pain.
Slowly build yourself back up to being able to run by doing some calf exercises such as toe raises.
Do not try to come back to running too early! This is the mistake that most of us runners make as we crave to get back out there but an achilles injury is serious for runners so make sure it is fully healed before starting again.
Have you suffered from Achilles Tendinopathy? How did you overcome it? Do you have any advice for runners who are currently suffering?