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Don't snap out of it!

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Don't snap out of it!

Jane Lawler

Did you know the Achilles is the largest and strongest tendon in the body?
As you can imagine, it’s pivotal in all aspects of lower limb propulsion and tolerates high levels of load daily.

One of the most common running related injuries we see as Podiatrists are Achilles problems. This may develop into Achilles Tendinopathy, which is a common overuse injury in runners but can occur in anyone. This is where the Achilles Tendon at the back of your heel or leg becomes sore and inflamed.

There are lots of ways this can manifest and create pain. This might be pain and stiffness at the back of the heel, often worse in the mornings. Or you might experience pain and swelling along the tendon or heel that worsens with activity. There could be thickening of the tendon, or severe pain the day after you have exercised. Sometimes you can feel a bony lump too.

Achilles tendon problems don’t just happen. There are some risk factors which make you more likely to develop these symptoms. These include improper biomechanics, errors in training load and sudden increases in activity load, weight, poor shock absorption or excessive motion within your foot, muscle weakness, structural abnormalities, and poor mobility and flexibility.

There may also be long standing degenerative changes in the tendon which predispose it to snapping, commonly called a rupture. Ouch!

Though important at times, it’s not necessarily as simple as just stretching before you run or ‘rest it and you’ll be fine’. Evidence suggests it’s far more important to build and maintain strength with therapeutic exercises, which increase the tolerance to the load you place on the tendon when running. So, don’t panic if you’re an avid runner, as ‘motion is lotion’ and in most cases simply modifying your running load, rather than stopping all together is advised when combining with rehabilitation exercises.

There are varying degrees of severity and healing times for Achilles problems, so it’s important to get an assessment as soon as symptoms arise, to allow a safe and speedy recovery. Assessment and diagnosis of your condition through tests, gait analysis, footwear assessment and sometimes diagnostic imaging can help.
 
If you think you might be developing these symptoms or other foot and ankle related issues and would like a professional assessment, book an appointment to come in and see us at Junction Foot and Ankle Group on 9250 1676