At our Galway-based physiotherapy clinic, we commonly treat Achilles pain also known as Achilles tendonitis or tendinopathy. Achilles pain is a term used to describe pain or inflammation in the Achilles tendon at the back of the heel. This is a common overuse injury caused by repetitive load and stress which exceeds the tendon’s shock absorbing capacity and leads to an inflammatory process. The tendon can also be subject to a sudden injury, or in the worst case, a rupture of the Achilles tendon. In both cases, a lack of flexibility or a stiff Achilles tendon can increase the risk of these injuries.

The Achilles tendon is the biggest and strongest tendon in the human body. The tendon has the capacity to resist large tensile forces. It stems from a distal confluence of the gastrocnemius and soleus muscle and inserts at the bottom of the calcaneus.

                                               achilles-tendon

There are three main stages of tendon disrepair are the following:

1) Reactive tendinopathy
2) Tendon dysrepair
3) Degenerative tendinopathy

Risk factors for developing Achilles Tendinopathy include the following:

• Obesity
• High blood pressure
• Rapid changes to load/frequency/ duration or volume of training.
• Type II Diabetes
• Prolonged steroid use
• Family history of tendinopathy
• Other factors include inappropriate footwear and the elderly population.

Treatment

• Optimise biomechanics
• Controlled tendon loading with a focus on eccentric exercise
• Dry needling
• Manual therapy
• Electrotherapy modalities

The key goal of tendinopathy treatment is to improve the energy storage and overall loading capacity of the tendon. This is the ability of the tendon and associated muscle to work and manage load, essentially acting as a ‘spring’ in storing and then releasing energy. Three key exercises for Achilles tendinopathy are:

1. Isometric Loading
2. Isotonic Loading
3. Energy Storage Loading

Here at West Coast Physio Ireland we are dedicated to giving you the leading edge in your recovery.