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Achillies Tendinopathy

What is Achilles Tendinopathy?

The Achilles tendon is situated above the heel and forms the lower part of the calf muscles. Achilles Tendinopathy is degeneration of the tendon due to the inability to cope with the load placed upon it (the tendon is not strong enough for the demand).

Achilles Tendinopathy usually comes on gradually, and is more common in those aged over 40. There is pain, which is worsened by activity, and the focal areas of degeneration feel tender to touch. The affected part of the tendon may appear thickened in comparison to the unaffected side. Often the tendon feels very stiff first thing in the morning.

What can you do to prevent Achilles Tendinopathy?

  • Calf stretching is essential to prevent Achillies Tendinopathy
  • Good running trainers- designed for your foot type, with shock absorbing insoles may help.
  • Orthotics- Over pronation (dropped arch) can place excessive strain on the Achilles tendon and lead to Achilles Tendinopathy. It may be that you require an arch support to correct foot position. These can be purchased over the counter or can be custom made by one of our podiatrists.
  • Sensible training load- The intensity, duration and frequency of training sessions should be carefully monitored and gradually progressed. Ensure you do not do two long runs on consecutive days.
  • Muscle strengthening- we often find that long distance runners neglect strength work in the gym, believing the myth that running builds up leg strength when actually quite the opposite is true. There are important muscle groups that need specific strength work to ensure good running techniques. The Gluteals (Buttocks) are particularly important. Your therapist will show you the best exercises to do for your condition.

What should you do if you suffer from Achilles Tendinopathy?

Exercise program- Published research has suggested that recovery is optimised by using a programme that uses what is called 'eccentric muscle work'. If you stand on the edge of a step with your heel dropped off the edge. Use two feet to rise up on to your tiptoes and come down (eccentrically) on the affected side. Repeat 15 x3 daily.

Ice- 15 minutes every hour to the affected area (protect the skin to avoid ice burn)

What can the Blackberry Clinic do to help?

Our Physiotherapists, Osteopaths or Chiropractors will assess you. They may want to have a look at your feet and may want to running, to see if you have any biomechanical issues that need correcting. They may refer you on to podiatry for custom made orthotics. 

The therapy may consist of manual therapy, massage and acupuncture to relieve the pain. You will be given a specific rehabilitation program, including an "eccentric muscle strengthening program". You will also be given education on the condition and advice about how to gradually return to running.

Achilles Tendinopathy has a reputation for being difficult to get rid of. Here at the Blackberry Clinic we have both conservative and non-conservative options and will be able to guide you along the road to recovery.

The non conservative options include Autologus Blood injections and Platelet Rich Plasma Injections.