Achilles Tendinitis | Total Performance Physical Therapy

Achilles Tendinitis

June 6, 2019

Achilles tendonitis is a very common injury that many athletes and especially runners encounter. The Achilles tendon is the tendon that attaches the calf muscles to the bone in your foot called the calcaneus. The muscles of the calf that are involved with Achilles tendonitis include the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles, which make up the muscles of the calf. Tendonitis itself means inflammation of the tendon, which explains this condition very well.

This is the Achilles tendon where many people consider problems and feel teh pain.
This is the Achilles tendon where many people consider problems and feel teh pain.

Following an injury to the tendon itself or even the repetitive nature of running or specific activities, the Achilles tendon may develop micro tearing, which causes inflammation and results in pain at the site where the tendon attaches or in the calf muscles themselves. A sudden increase in training, which often causes more stress on the tendon is also a common cause of Achilles tendonitis. Pain may continue if you continue the activity that initially injured the tendon or any other activity involving contraction or stretching of the calf muscles because the contraction or stretch will put tension on the tendon, which is injured. In many cases, individuals develop trigger points in the calf muscles because of the initial injury and because of increased demand put on the muscles to compensate for pain.

There are two types of Achilles tendonitis, insertional and non-insertional Achilles tendonitis. Insertional Achilles tendonitis is when the inflammation or tearing occurs right where the tendon attaches to the calcaneus. Non-insertional Achilles tendonitis is when the injury or tearing occurs in the middle portion of the tendon. According to where you feel the most pain is how a physical therapist determines where the actual injury is along the tendon.

Physical therapists will address any range of motion deficits or weakness in the leg musculature by thoroughly examining and taking measurements of all ankle motions and leg strength. If deficits are noted, your physical therapist will teach you exercises that address these limitations, which will help reduce pain felt with activity.  Exercises include stretching your calf muscles carefully and strengthening your calf muscles both concentrically and eccentrically. Eccentric muscle contractions involves strengthening the calf muscle from a shortened to lengthened position and concentric muscle contractions strengthen the muscle from a lengthened to a shortened position. Your physical therapist may also perform deep tissue massage or trigger point release to the Achilles tendon and calf muscle to normalize muscle tissue, which will help aid in the healing process while reducing pain. Ultrasound may also be utilized to help with the healing process. Ultrasound uses sound waves that help increase the permeability of the surrounding tissues to increase blood flow to the Achilles tendon and help the injury heal.  For more information on physical therapy services call Total Performance Physical Therapy to make an appointment today!