Achilles pain or tightness is a common reason for a visit to a Sports Chiropractor. There are many different types and causes. The Achilles tendon is the tendon for the gastrocnemius and soleus muscle. It is important to understand that tendons have very poor blood supply, which is why tendons and ligaments take longer to heal.
Types of Achilles Pain
- Tendinitis is the acute phase of irritation and inflammation to the tendon. This is typically the 1st week of an injury or so.
- As the tendon builds up scar tissue it becomes less flexibile and strong. This is what is called tendinosis.
- Achilles or calf tearing or rupture
- Usually described as a pop in the back of the leg. Please seek Medical attention if you have felt a pop in the back of your leg.
- Blood clot
- Any redness, swelling, throbbing pain in your calf please seek medical attention immediately!
- Sitting for periods of time <4 hours, birth control and smoking are all risk factors for blood clots
Causes of Achilles Pain
- Overuse of the calf muscles
- Compensation for weak hip extensors (glutes)
- Increase in mileage for runners, overtraining or increase in activity
- Increase in hill activity without proper calf stretching and strengthening can cause achilles pain
- Tight calves
- Can also be from overuse but also from not stretching or warming up the calves prior to activity
- Excessive pronation (pes planus) can cause increased stress on the achilles tendon
- Lack of ankle mobility (dorsiflexion) can also place excessive stress on the achilles
- Poor shoes
- Shoes that have broken down can cause the achilles to tighten up
- If you see wear on the back of your shoes it is time to change them
- Standing for too long
Tips for Achilles Pain
- Seek help to determine the cause
- Reduce mileage and activity to tolerance
- Usually a good guideline is limit your pain to a 3/10 during or after activity
- Check your shoes. If you see visible wear, it is time to get new shoes
- Healing time can take longer than you think.
- Due to poor blood supply, tendons can take 2 months up to 6 months or a year to fully heal
Treatment for Achilles Pain
- Ice in the acute phase (20 minutes 2x a day)
- 1st week of pain
- After activity even after the 1st week
- Heat to the calf (10 minutes)
- To increase blood flow and to warm up the calf prior to activity
- Stretch your calves
- Activate your glutes-
- Strengthen your calves