Achilles tendinopathy is usually a gradual-onset injury most often caused by overuse. It is a common injury for runners, soccer players, basketball players, and any other athlete that spends a lot of time in forward motion. Overuse occurs when the Achilles tendon undergoes excessive stresses without enough time to adjust to those stress levels between occurrences. Excessive stress can be the result of poor foot mechanics, increased conditioning sessions, improper playing or running surfaces, improper footwear, muscle weakness, inflexibility, or a combination of all of the above.
Let's focus on poor foot mechanics and footwear. Excessive pronation (leaning of your foot towards your big toe) when running increases stress to the Achilles tendon. The Achilles tendon naturally has a spiral formation; thus, when the foot is pronated it adds extra stress and tightness to the tendon. This, coupled with then tendon's poor blood supply, can lead to injury that can be a real "pain" to get over.
So what can be done to treat Achilles tendinitis? First and foremost, a gait analysis should be performed to see if the athlete is a pronator. If so, proper footwear and taping techniques can help limit the amount of pronation while running and ultimately decrease the stress on the Achilles tendon. Further, a qualified healthcare provider can provide myofascial release to help break up any adhesions found in the tendon. Stretching of the whole leg region can help increase achilles flexibility, i.e. calves, hamstrings, hip flexors, and glutes. Your healthcare provider can then prescribe exercises to help control and strengthen the area.
It is best to seek help sooner rather than later regarding Achilles issues. The longer one goes trying to fight it on their own without treatment or rest, the more likely more damage may occur. If you or someone you know are having these issues then we would be happy to help you here at Nashville Chiropractic!