Heel pain may be caused by Reactive Tendinopathy of the Achilles Tendon, but what is it?

What is it?

The Achilles is the thickest tendon in the body, and connects the calf muscles (soleus and gastrocnemius) to the heel (calcaneus). Reactive Tendinopathy of Achilles Tendon is an early stage of tendinopathy caused by chronic overloading of the tendon tissues, such as a dramatic increase in mileage by a runner.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms are pain along the length of the tendon which can often be worse upon waking in the morning.

How can I stop the pain?

Tendon dysfunction and degeneration can be prevented by early intervention, such as stopping the aggravating activities that compress the tendon by repetitive dorsiflexion, i.e.: running. These activities could be replaced with a non-weightbearing activity such as swimming. Early intervention also includes isometric contractions that help to modulate pain and maintain ankle joint strength.

How can I prevent the pain from returning?

A training programme to strengthen the tendons using a mixture of isometric, concentric and eccentric contractions at an optimal load (not too much or too little weight) will help to keep tendinopathy at bay. It is important to also ensure that training volume is increased gradually to avoid overload, for example: a runner gradually increasing mileage following a window of de-training or an off-season. Under guidance from an appropriately trained professional you may consider changing your footwear or seeking help to improve your running mechanics.

Have you ever experienced Achilles tendinopathy before? I would love to know what you have experienced. Did exercise play a role in your recovery? Please feel welcome to comment below.

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