In the last of our series on overuse injuries caused by starting off an exercise routing too quickly, we look at Achilles tendinitis.
Your Achilles tendon is the longest tendon in your body. It is located at the back of your leg and connects your calf muscles to your heel. There are two types of Achilles tendinitis. Noninsertional Achilles tendinitis is damage to the more toward the middle of the tendon and is usually an issue for younger active people. Insertional Achilles tendinitis is found at the back of the heel where the tendon attaches to the heel bone.
Achilles Tendinitis is an overuse injury. This means it is caused by repeated stress to the tendon. When you suddenly increase either the amount or intensity of your exercise program (or just start too fast) you can cause stress to your Achilles tendon. Your Achilles tendon needs to build up to an exercise program in order to be effective. This is especially true for middle age people as the tendon will become less flexible and more prone to injury as we age. So starting slowly is particularly important as you get older.
Signs of Achilles Tendinitis
1. Pain or stiffness at the back of the heel first thing in the morning.
2. Pain along the back of the heel that increases with activity
3. Physical thickening of the back of the heel
4. Bone spurs develop where the tendon inserts into the heel
5. The area is swollen all the time and gets worse during the day
Is there an at home treatment?
Well… yes and no. The first step of treatment is to rest the tendon. This means that if you are a runner that you switch to a non-impact exercise like bicycling or swimming. You can also put ice on the area to reduce swelling. Also if you tolerate ibuprofen, you can take that to help with the pain.
If you rest and the problem goes away and doesn’t return, then you are all set. Just make sure that you gradually move back to the activity that caused the problem. Start s l o w l y.
If that doesn’t work…
If your home treatment does not work, it is time to go see your friendly local podiatrist. Tell the doctor when the problem started and what you had done to try and make it better. The doctor will ask you questions and then examine the area. An x-ray maybe ordered to look at the area to make sure that your problem is really Achilles tendinitis. Beyond suggesting rest, ice, and ibuprofen, your doctor may suggest that you go to physical therapy for the exercises and therapies that they can provide. The doctor may determine that orthotics will help adjust your foot strike pattern to alleviate the irritation to your Achilles tendon.
Just as a quick note – do not ever allow anyone to inject cortisone to help an Achilles tendinitis issue. More likely as not the tendon will rupture.
This is the end of our series on injuries from starting an exercise program too quickly. We hope that we have convinced you to start slowly and build over time so that you can enjoy your exercise time more and try to have fewer injuries. You might want to look into the various exercise groups in your area so that you make the exercising more interesting. We wish you well!
The Foot Blogger Chick
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