...chances are you either know someone who’s had it or you yourself have experienced some form of it.
It is one of the most common injuries in runners, racket sports and other explosive/jumping activities.The classic signs are:
Stiffness/swelling in the region of the Achilles tendon at the back of the ankle
Pain/discomfort with running or fast/explosive activities, but often even walking
Pain is always worse after the activity despite often settling during the activity.
As a Physiotherapist, I love treating tendons and have first-hand experience of tendon injuries.
In my experience, there are 5 things you should know when you suspect you have Achilles Tendinopathy:
It’s all about load. Whatever you do, your tendons are sensitive to load and load triggers internal changes within the tendon. If the load is a positive, healthy amount it will lead to tendon adaptation (an essential part of tissue health and homeostasis). If the load is too much, it will lead to pathology and breakdown. Any sudden change in training frequency, intensity, terrain, shoes/footwear, rest, etc. can have either a positive or negative effect on the tendon.
Simply resting the tendon will not help it heal. Rest is good and often is essential, but this does nothing to the core problem, which is load tolerance of the tissue. By doing nothing you only feel better because you’re not loading the tendon, but the moment you step back into your sport, wear those heels again or quickly run for the train, it can return with a vengeance.
In most cases you can still keep on training whilst undergoing rehabilitation. It all depends on what you do and how much of it you do. Stable, low levels of pain, is now shown to be quite beneficial in the adaptation of the Achilles tendon and in most cases is an important part of the rehab programme.
Your symptoms can be cured! From research we know that a pathological tendon might never “heal” or return to its normal self when investigated on a scan (so you might end up with a slightly thicker tendon), but you can still enjoy all your normal sports and activities without pain.
Not everyone needs further interventions (injections/scans/surgeries) and conservative management, ie Physiotherapy, is still the treatment of choice for majority of Achilles Tendinopathy cases.
At Weybridge & Walton Physiotherapy we are passionate about restoring your tendons! We are always working to optimise your movement and get you back to your life/sports. We believe in empowering our patients with knowledge, self-progression skills and rehab exercise.