Achilles Tendonitis (pain at the back of the heel)

INTRODUCTION TO ACHILLES PAIN

Achilles tendonitis is a painful and often debilitating inflammation of the achilles tendon, also called the heel cord. This large tendon is an extension of the two calf muscles; it runs down the back of the lower leg and attaches to the heel bone (calcaneus). The Achilles tendon connects the strong leg muscles to the foot and gives us the ability to rise up on our toes, facilitating the act of walking. The Achilles tendon is vital to our ability to walk upright and Achilles tendonitis can make walking almost impossible.

Symptoms include pain that may be present at the achilles tendon during exercise. The pain may increase once activity has ceased. There may also be tenderness may be felt along the course of the tendon along with the presence of a localized nodule on the tendon. The soles of the patient’s shoes may show an abnormal shoe wear pattern.

CAUSES OF ACHILLES PAIN

The biggest contributing factor is ignoring the pain in the tendon and trying to run through the pain. Sudden increases in training can lead also to achilles tendonitis. Excessive hill running or speed work and Inappropriate shoes can be contributing factors. If the soles of the shoes are too stiff, this causes the forefoot to have limited movement. This can lead to increased tension to the achilles tendon. The most common cause of Achilles tendonitis is due to abnormal pronation that causes the arch of the foot to flatten too much and the leg to twist more than normal. This, in turn, causes the lower leg muscles (the gastrocnemius and the soleus) to stretch more than normal. Like a rubber band, the further the muscles stretch, the tighter they become. The force on the Achilles tendon and the heel cone increases, resulting in inflammation and pain, foot insoles provide an immediate relief to over pronation.


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