Achilles tendon injuries

Achilles tendon injuries and problems are very common in athletes, particularly runners.

The Achilles tendon is the large tendon at the back of the ankle. The Achilles connects the large calf muscles to the heel bone and provides push off in walking, running and jumping.

Injury

The tendon becomes weakened through overuse. Causes include:

  • excessive or unaccustomed running
  • poor biomechanics (i.e. poor pelvic stability / flattened foot arch)
  • wearing inadequate or incorrect footwear
  • running or walking on hard or uneven surfaces

What do I feel?

  • Pain in tendon during exercise (gradual onset)
  • Swelling / redness / tenderness over the tendon area
  • Stiffness in the morning

What can I do?

  • Reduce / modify activity
  • Apply ICE (Ice, Compression and Elevation) to tendon
  • Wear heel raises / foot orthotics to decrease strain on tendon
  • Engage in an effective rehabilitation program with a physiotherapist

If Achilles tendon injuries are treated at an early stage, you should be able to make a good recovery. The tendon does take a while to heal as it has a poor blood supply, but be patient, follow guidance from your therapist and continue to do your exercises. Poor management of an Achilles tendinopathy can lead to a chronic problem so it is essential to manage the injury appropriately.

This information is intended as a guide only. For specific information regarding injury assessment and management, you should always consult your health professional.