Sports Rehab for Achilles Tendonitis

achilles-insertional-tendonosis

Sports Rehab for achilles tendonitis is common for people who participate in sports such as running, football, basketball, tennis, volleyball and dance.

By definition achilles tendonitis is a condition of inflammation or irritation of the largest tendon in the body. This tendon connects the calf muscle to the heel and when it becomes swollen and painful weight bearing is difficult.

pain areas achillesThere are two types of achilles tendonitis (1) noninsertional where tendon fibers break down and tear in the belly of the calf muscle and (2) insertional where the tendon inserts into the heel. Often seen here is calcification of fibers causing bone spurs, Here we will discuss the causes, symptoms, sports rehab and prevention of this condition.

Causes

Achilles tendonitis is not related to a specific injury but falls into the category of overuse or repetitive stress injury. Sudden increase in the amount or intensity of exercise is a very common cause of this condition. For example if a runner starts adding mileage quickly it is harder for the body to make that adjustment thus creating stress within the tendon. Tightness of the calf muscle puts a tremendous bio mechanical stress on the achilles tendon resulting in tendon inflammation. Bone spurs where the tendon attaches into the heel causes friction and pain creating acute inflammation.

Symptoms

a stretch vs wallSome of the common symptoms associated  with achilles tendonitis are (1) pain and tightness along the tendon especially in the morning (2) increased pain within the tendon or heel with increased activity (3) acute pain day after exercising (4) thickening or swelling of the tendon (5) presence of bone spur especially near heel (6) swelling with prolonged weight bearing activity and (7) pronated feet. Very often with achilles tendonitis gait deviation is evident.

Sports Rehab

Sports Rehab or physical therapy is very helpful in treating achilles tendonitis but there are better results for noninsertional than for insertional conditions. The first step is to reduce or decrease the activity that is creating increased pain within the tendon. If you do high impact exercises like running switch to lower impact exercises such as biking, elliptical or swimming. To drive the acute pain from achilles tendonitis start daily ice applications after activity and especially at the end of the day. To accelerate reducing the inflammation medication such as ibuprofen and naproxen are useful. US achillesSports rehab or physical therapy by a qualified specialist is highly recommended and often referred by the orthopedist. Sports rehab will consist of the use of modalities to decrease the inflammation, soothe the tendon and prevent the formation of scar tissue. Most important to remember that if scar tissue forms there is definitely long term weakening of the tendon and calf muscle. The modalities most often utilized are electrical stimulation, ultrasound, cold laser, iontophoresis and phonphoresis. Many therapists use sports massage to relax the tendon and reduce the tendency to form scar tissue. Sports rehab must include a program from mild to aggressive calf stretching and strengthening. The physical therapist will usually outline and instruct on home exercises.

Prevention

prostretchWarm up and stretching prior to your sport or exercise is very important. You should start off by walking or stationary bike for approximately 10 minutes;  then get into stretching the calf, hamstring and groin musculature. After the activity get into the habit of a cool down period where you should slow walk or jog for 5 minutes then get into your stretching routine for at least 10 minutes. Avoid any sport or intense activity that you are not in condition to perform. Must wear well cushioned sneakers or shoes to protect the heel. Heel pads or orthotics are very helpful in preventing the onset of this condition. It is a must to be on a consistent calf stretching routine. Taking the proper steps in caring and preventing achilles tendonitis will definitely decrease the tendency for the tendon from rupturing and possible surgery. Sports rehab should always be considered with this condition.