The term Achilles' Heel refers to a person's greatest weakness. According to legend, Achilles' mother dipped him in the river Styx, which made him invulnerable except for the spot his mother held him by — his heel. This myth seems to have some truth to it since humans are vulnerable to Achilles' heel damage. Achilles Tendonitis can strike people of all ages, causing pain and limited mobility.
WHAT IS ACHILLES TENDONITIS?
Your Achilles tendon runs down the back of your leg and attaches your calf muscle to your heel. Anytime you walk, run or otherwise use your feet, you rely on your Achilles tendons. When a tendon is injured and inflamed, your daily activities are seriously compromised. You can suffer from two types of Achilles Tendonitis: noninsertional and insertional. Noninsertional tendonitis means that the middle of your tendon has small tears and has begun to swell. According to experts, this type of Achilles Tendonitis commonly affects younger people who are physically active. Insertional tendonitis can affect people of all ages, although it often results from years of stress and strain. This condition occurs where the heel and the tendon attach, and it can lead to inflammation, calcified fibers and bone spurs.
SYMPTOMS OF ACHILLES TENDONITIS
If you have Achilles tendonitis, you may notice pain near or above your heel after you've been active. Stair climbing and running may become difficult. Also, you might find the area stiff and sore when you wake up in the morning. Your heel may feel better after you engage in moderate movement. You may also experience tight calf muscles and a "warm" heel. If the pain continues or becomes severe, you should visit your medical professional. You could have a ruptured tendon.
CAUSES OF ACHILLES TENDONITIS
An abrupt increase in exercise can cause injury to the Achilles tendon. You decide to begin running five miles a day instead of three, the sudden change can cause tears in the tendon. Also, weekend sports warriors may develop this condition as they age. The bursts of activity after a relatively sedentary week can injure the muscle fibers.
TREATMENTS FOR ACHILLES TENDONITIS
This condition can benefit from the tried and true RICE method: rest, ice, compression and elevation. Your doctor may have you limit your activities until the inflammation dissipates. If your tendon has ruptured, the doctor may recommend surgery to reattach the tendon.
Orthotic insoles HELP FOR ACHILLES TENDONITIS
Doctors recommend several strategies to help prevent this condition. You should only increase your exercise slowly and not burst into sudden, extreme workouts. Always stretch before and after your workouts to help lessen strain on the calf muscles. Additionally, experts recommend alternating exercise routines, combining high- and low-impact activities to vary the forces on your tendons.
Finally, wear orthotic insoles. The supportive, heel-cradling shape of orthotic insoles and footwear can help reduce stress and tension on the Achilles tendon.