Part 1 of 3: Achilles Tendinopathy
Have you ever felt pain in the back of the ankle, particularly when jumping and running? If so, you are not alone.
Achilles tendinopathy is often described as an overuse injury of the tendon attaching your calf muscle to the bone at the back of the foot. It is one of the most commonly injured tendons, especially in running and jumping sports.
So what does the achilles actually do?
The tendon is responsible for storing and releasing tensile forces (energy) to propel your body forward. Think of it in a similar way to how a spring works. As you press down on the spring it stores energy, and when you release the spring it will quickly propel in an outward direction.
Tendinopathy, is caused by a tendon not coping or adapting to a change in environment or load.
There are a few different forms of tendon pain, one being an acute inflammatory reaction, the other being a cellular change (don’t worry we will go into more detail about this in the next blog post!)
This can be for a number of reasons, these include;
Changes in loading
- Change in distance
- Change in intensity
- Change in weight
- Change in training volume
- Reduction in rest or recovery time
- Change in technique or training
- Foot position
- Some chronic health conditions
- Reduced calf length
- Reduced calf strength
- Reduced hip or pelvic control/stability
- Change in surface
- Change in shoes
- Change in equipment
Let’s talk through some examples to understand these concepts better.
Recreational runner: Joe
Joe usually exercises on and off (1-2 x weekly). Jo decides to ‘START training’ for a half marathon and increasing his running from 1-2 x weekly, to 5-6. He progressively adds on kilometres to each session. Joe has nearly tripled his loading/volume in the space of a week. This is a perfect example of someone loading too aggressively and forcing their body to attempt to adapt. Whilst not everyone would pull up with a tendinopthy, Joe is increasing his risk significantly.
Elite Athlete: Sally
Sally is a 100m sprinter training for nationals. Sally’s coach wants her to change her shoes for the upcoming competition. Sally also adds plyometric exercises into her conditioning program. The change in footwear and the additional plyometric loading cause a reactive tendon response.
So… how do we attempt to prevent this from happening?
- Gradually increasing or decreasing your load;
- Ensuring you have adequate strength in the calf, legs and hips;
- Monitor how your body feels, does the pain last longer than normal exercise soreness?
- Ensure you have an appropriate warm up and cool down;
- Schedule rest and recovery!
Need help with? Call our friendly staff at START training to learn how to appropriately tailor your training volume and load! Alternatively follow the link to make an online booking: https://starttraining.net.au/services/physiotherapy/
Keep tuned for Part 2 and 3 of this topic!
Chantelle Bailey – To read a bit more about Chantelle, follow the link to her bio!