The Achilles tendon is very strong. It’s located at the back of your ankle and connects your two calf muscles to the bone in the heel of your foot. The tendon is made up of many collagen fibres. There are several ways in which the tendon can become injured, leading to Achilles Tendinopathy. The tissue surrounding the tendon may become inflamed, the tendon may become worn down (degenerate), cysts (small sacs of fluid) may form inside the tendon, or tiny tears may form in the fibres. The main symptom is pain just above your heel bone that develops gradually. At first you may only have pain first thing in the morning or after exercise. The pain may disappear as you warm up, only to return when you cool down. Over time, as the problem worsens, you may have pain for longer periods of time and you may eventually start limping.
Your calf and the area above your heel may also be slightly swollen and feel stiff.
Achilles Tendinopathy is usually caused by overuse and is a common injury in sports that involve running and jumping. Repeated stress on the tendon causes microscopic damage to occur.
Achilles Tendinopathy is more likely to happen if you:
- increase your activity levels (mileage, speed, type of activity), for example hill training
- don’t leave enough recovery time between training sessions
- change you usual training surface
- wear inappropriate footwear
- have poor movement (biomechanics) in your feet, for example flat feet
- have poor movement (biomechanics) in your lower leg, for example poor calf flexibility
- have a poor range of movement in your ankle
There are a number of things you can do to help Achilles Tendinopathy and seeking Physiotherapy advice would be very beneficial.