Your Achilles tendon is the largest and strongest tendon in your body. It attaches the calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus) to the heel bone. This tendon is critical to your ability to walk, jump, and run.
Achilles tendonitis describes inflammation of the Achilles tendon. You’ll feel a burning in the back of your heel or low calf that often worsens with activity. You may also experience mild swelling and warmth. The area will feel stiff in the morning but eases up a bit as you stretch and walk around.
The Achilles tendon is strong, but it’s not immune to the stresses of improper movement and stress. Achilles tendonitis often results from repeated movements of certain sports, like running, tennis, and basketball.
Failure to warm up the calf muscles before exercise or suddenly increasing your work or running load can also lead to Achilles tendonitis. Tight calves put excessive stress on the Achilles tendon.
Other factors that contribute to the development of Achilles tendonitis include:
Sometimes, Achilles tendonitis develops due to a bone spur that forms on the back of the ankle. This growth rubs against the tendon, causing irritation.
When you first notice the signs of Achilles tendonitis, rest and over-the-counter anti-inflammatories can reduce the pain and help you overcome complications. Heat and ice therapy further minimize inflammation and pain.
Physical therapy can help correct gait issues that contribute to the inflammation. Dr. McCall will also help evaluate your arches to determine if you need arch supports, a different type of footwear, or custom orthotics.
Dr. McCall recommends warm-up exercises and stretching to minimize irritation in the future. You benefit from adding in cross-training activities that keep you active but put less stress on the Achilles tendon. For example, runners may benefit from adding cycling.
The earlier you get help for Achilles tendonitis, the better your chances of preventing a chronic condition or serious rupture of the tendon.
If you have pain at the back of your heel or calf, call Ankle and Foot Clinic of Idaho or reach out via this website to set up an appointment.