Prevention and Treatment Strategies for Achilles Injury - Part 1
Brad Walker provides an overview of the causes and treatment of Achilles tendon injuries.
Achilles injuries are associated with sports that require a lot of running, jumping and change of direction. Excessive twisting or turning of the ankle and foot can result in a rupture or strain. The sports that are most susceptible to Achilles injury include running, walking, cycling, football, basketball and tennis.
What is an Achilles tendon injury?
The Achilles tendon is located at the rear (posterior) of the bottom half of the lower leg and is used to plantarflex the foot or point the foot downward. This allows a person the run, jump and stand on one's toes.
The Achilles tendon is the strongest tendon of the body, and able to withstand a 1000-pound force without tearing. Despite this, the Achilles ruptures more frequently than any other tendon because of the tremendous pressures placed on it during competitive sports.
Two main types of injuries affect the Achilles tendon; Achilles Tendonitis and Achilles Tendon Rupture.
Achilles Tendonitis is an inflammation of the tendon, and in most cases is caused by excessive training over an extended period.
Achilles Tendon Rupture, on the other hand, is a tear (or complete snapping) of the tendon, and usually occurs as the result of a sudden or unexpected force. In the case of a complete rupture, the only treatment available is to place the lower leg in a plaster cast for 6 to 8 weeks, or surgery. As both of these treatments are beyond the scope of this newsletter, we'll be focusing the rest of this article on Achilles Tendonitis.
Causes and Risk Factors
There are several causes and risk factors associated with Achilles Tendonitis. One of the most common causes is a lack of conditioning. If the tendon and muscles that connect to the tendon, have not been trained or conditioned, this can lead to a weakness that may result in an Achilles injury.
Overtraining is also associated with Achilles Tendonitis. Doing too much too soon places excessive strain on the Achilles tendon and does not allow the tendon enough time to recover properly. Over time small tears and general degeneration result in a weakening of the tendon, which leads to inflammation and pain.
Other causes of Achilles injury include a lack of warming up and stretching. Wearing inadequate footwear, running or training on the uneven ground, and standing on, or in something, you are not meant to. Biomechanical problems such as high arched feet or flat feet can also lead to Achilles injuries.
So, what are some of the things you can do to help prevent Achilles Tendonitis?
In part 2, I will be outlining a comprehensive initial and ongoing treatment program to make a recovery from Achilles Tendonitis as quick as possible.
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About the Author
Brad Walker is a prominent Australian sports trainer with more than 15 years' experience in the health and fitness industry. Brad is a Health Science graduate of the University of New England and has postgraduate accreditations in athletics, swimming and triathlon coaching. He also works with elite level and world champion athletes and lectures for Sports Medicine Australia on injury prevention.