3 Tips For Preventing Injury to Your Achilles Tendon

Your Achilles tendon runs from the back of your heel and attaches the heel bone to the calf muscle. You use it every day to jump, run, and walk. This thick, strong band of tissue is actually the largest and strongest band of tissue in your body, but that doesn’t mean it’s impervious to injury.

Too much stress can cause chronic pain in the form of Achilles tendinitis. You experience swelling, irritation, and inflammation at the tendon. At first, high-impact activity, such as jumping may be painful, but with time, you may have pain while walking.

A severe tear of the tendon is an Achilles rupture. A rupture means the muscle in the area tears and the fibers separate. Ruptures are often repairable only with surgery.

Avoid both injuries with these three smart strategies from Board-certified podiatrist David J. Kaplan, DPM, and the experienced care team at FootCare Specialist, Inc. in San Mateo and Half Moon Bay, California, 

Ramp up your activity levels slowly

Doing too much too soon is a common cause of Achilles injuries, particularly tendinitis. Your tendon doesn’t have time to adapt to sudden increases inactivity. For example, if you’re a runner, increase your mileage and speed gradually over the course of several weeks. 

The general rule is about a 10% mileage increase each week. Make speed and/or hill work only a small percentage of your weekly workout time too. Do most of your miles at a slow, steady pace.

Warm-up before activity

Ruptures of the Achilles tendon often occur during athletic activity that involves quick starts and stops. While you can’t change the nature of your sport, you can prepare adequately. 

Make sure you have the right shoes and that they aren’t worn out or ill-fitting. Plus, warming up before activity helps get your body ready for fast direction and speed changes. Give yourself about 10 minutes, or more, of dynamic stretching so your tendons, muscles, and ligaments are warm enough to handle practice or game time.

Take care of your calves

Weak or tight calves contribute to Achilles tendon injuries. Stretch your calves after activity to keep them loose and supple. Tight calf muscles pull on the tendon, which leads to inflammation and inflexibility that can cause tendinitis or a tear.

Weak calf muscles are also to blame for Achilles injuries. Strengthen your calves with calf raises to make sure they’re up to the activity required by your sport. We can offer calf-strengthening and stretching exercises that keep your Achilles tendons healthy.

If you suspect an Achilles tendon injury

If you have pain that suggests tendinitis or a rupture, come see us at FootCare Specialists, Inc. You should rest the area and halt all activity that causes stress and pain in the tendon. Use ice to reduce inflammation at the tendon, especially after exercise. 

You may also benefit from firmly wrapping the ankle. Over-the-counter medications can provide some relief, but don’t push through pain.  

Our podiatrists offer recommendations on the proper footwear to support your Achilles and foot movement, especially if you have flat arches and feet that overpronate.

If you do have chronic tendinitis or a rupture, there treatments and preventive measures, such as radial pulse therapy (RPT), custom orthotics to help support the muscle and relieve stress on the tendon, stretching, and strengthening exercises.

Dr. Kaplan always begins with conservative treatment. However, if surgery is needed there are minimally invasive procedures that our doctors perform to get you back into action as quickly as possible.  

For issues with your Achilles Tendon and all of your foot and ankle care needs, by contacting Dr. Kaplan and the team at FootCare Specialist, Inc., or request an appointment online now.

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