What is Achilles Tendinitis?
Achilles tendinitis is a condition where the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscles to the heel bone, becomes inflamed. This is typically caused by overuse, repetitive movements, or strain placed on the tendon. Notably affecting individuals engaged in high-impact sports or activities involving repetitive movement, the persistent stress on the tendon can lead to microscopic tears or changes within tendon fibres.
What are the symptoms of Achilles Tendinitis?
The signs of Achilles Tendinitis can range from heel tendon pain, and stiffness, to discomfort. However, different individuals may experience a variation in the symptoms they exhibit.
Pain along the tendon:
Those affected by the condition may describe experiencing a sharp pain, a dull ache, or a burning sensation. This sensation is frequently felt at the back of the calf or ankle, following the path of the Achilles tendon.
Stiffness and discomfort:
Discomfort, tightness, and stiffness surrounding the calf muscles are common sensations when it comes to Achilles tendinitis. There may also be a limited range of motion present in the ankle after a period of inactivity or when taking your first steps in the morning.
Inflammation of the Achilles tendon frequently results in noticeable swelling in the affected area. This may be accompanied by sensations like tenderness, discomfort, and a restricted range of motion.
Aggravation of Symptoms during or after Activities:
Symptoms typically intensify during or after engaging in physical activities that involve the affected foot, such as walking, running, or climbing stairs. These discomforting sensations may persist even after the activity, impacting daily tasks and mobility.
What are the common causes of Achilles Tendinitis?
The causes of heel tendon pain can vary depending on the individual’s lifestyle, occupational factors, or even anatomy. Common causes of this condition include:
Conditions like flat feet and hyperpronated feet (feet that turn inwards) can increase stress on the Achilles tendon.
Overuse and repetitive stress:
Participating in activities involving constant running, jumping, or repetitive foot movements can stress the Achilles tendon, leading to inflammation and injury.
A sudden increase in activity:
A rapid escalation in activity intensity and duration can strain the tendon, particularly without proper warm-ups before sports activities, increasing the risk of heel tendon pain.
Previous Achilles tendon injuries:
Past or existing injuries to the Achilles tendon heighten the risk of heel tendon pain. This vulnerability can lead to strain, inflammation, and prolonged recovery periods.
What are the different types of Achilles tendinitis?
Heel tendon pain can stem from overuse, trauma, or engagement in activities involving repetitive movements. If you observe your tendon thickening, hardening, or experiencing pain when pressure is applied to your heel, you may be dealing with Achilles tendinitis. This condition is categorised into two types, each affecting a distinct part of the tendon.
Non-insertional Achilles Tendinitis
This degenerative condition, triggered by overuse, is frequently seen in younger individuals who regularly participate in physical activities. Non-insertional Achilles tendinitis usually encompasses a degenerative process within the tendon, marked by progressive degeneration and microscopic tears of the tendon fibres.
Typical symptoms of this tendinitis variant involve swelling, thickening, and deterioration of fibres in the middle of the tendon. Individuals experiencing this condition may also observe the formation of lumps within the tendon.
Insertional Achilles Tendinitis
Insertional Achilles tendinitis, conversely, impacts the lower part of the tendon, precisely where it attaches to the heel bone. Unlike non-insertional Achilles tendinitis, which often affects younger, active individuals, this condition can occur across all age groups, including those leading a sedentary lifestyle.
In this condition, inflammation occurs where the tendon connects to the heel bone due to repetitive stress and trauma. This inflammation can lead to the formation of bone spurs or calcifications at the affected site, exacerbating symptoms such as pain and tenderness. Individuals experiencing this condition may endure persistent discomfort, particularly during specific movements that put pressure on the heel.
What are the common causes of muscle tears?
Pushing your muscles beyond their limits, especially during physical activities like weightlifting, sports, or intense workouts, can lead to muscle tears. This often happens when you lift weights that are too heavy or engage in high-intensity activities without proper conditioning.
Muscle tears are not just caused by physically demanding activities and sports, but can also be caused by the use of incorrect form when performing tasks such as lifting a heavy object such as a basket of laundry. Using improper techniques can place excessive stress on certain muscles, leading to strains or tears. Therefore, proper coaching and use of techniques are crucial to preventing injuries.
Lack of Warm Up
Jumping right into a sporting activity can make your muscles more susceptible to tears. Without a proper warm-up, your muscles are essentially caught off guard when subjected to sudden, strenuous activity. Incorporating a few minutes of warm up into your exercise or sports routine, allows your muscles to gradually prepare for the demands ahead, reducing the risk of injury and enhancing overall performance.