The Achilles tendon is the thickest, strongest tendon in the human body, able to transfer large forces when we move. The Achilles’ can transfer forces of up to 10 times your body weight when you jump, hop, run or skip. Many Achilles injuries are chronic and develop slowly over time but can be very debilitating and take a long time to settle and recover.
Causes of Achilles pain can be weak calf muscles (Gastrocnemius & Soleus), an imbalance between the calf muscles, tight ankle or subtalar joints or poor gluteal muscles. Research has shown that Achilles do not become inflamed, therefore anti-inflammatories are often of no benefit. Injections of cortisone into the Achilles have shown to increase the risk of rupture
The Achilles can also be sore in different areas, mid-portion/mid-tendon or insertional. These require different treatments and exercise guidance as treatment for mid tendon usually aggravates an insertional tendon injury.
The first thing to do when you experience Achilles pain is to seek the right advice. Sometimes the tendon can be aggravated from overload (see our previous blog on Load). If this is the case some rest and gentle exercise can settle your symptoms quickly. If the injury is more persistent then a graduated exercise regime needs to be undertaken.