The Achilles tendon is the thickest tendon in the human body. It attaches the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles (together known as the triceps surae) as well as the plantaris muscle to the calcaneus bone (heel) of the ankle. These muscles combined allow for plantar flexion at the ankle and flexion of the knee.
Tendinopathy of the Achilles tendon refers to a condition that causes pain, swelling, or stiffness at the tendon connecting the muscles to the bone. Commonly found in athletes such as runners, overuse of the tendon, may result in microtrauma or repeated injuries to the Achilles tendon. Wearing improper footwear, having poor training or exercising techniques, making a sudden change to your training program, or exercising on hard surfaces may also cause minor injuries to this tendon. Pain and stiffness may develop gradually and are typically worse in the morning. Pain is generally worse after exercise, but may potentially arise during training. Overtime, symptoms may be so severe that individuals may be unable to carry out their usual daily activities.
Rehabilitation occurs quickly or over several months depending on the severity of the injury. Although pain may be present, expert clinicians and researchers recommend continuing daily activities within one’s pain tolerance. As complete rest should be avoided as much as possible.
In the early stages of Achilles tendinopathy, a treatment called iontophoresis may be used to reduce soreness and improve function. This treatment involves delivering a medicine (dexamethasone) to the painful area. Ice packs are also effective in reducing swelling. Apply ice pack wrapped in a towel or dry cloth to the affected area for 10 to 30 minutes at a time.
However, researchers have found that Achilles tendinopathy is often successfully treated with strength training guided by a physical therapist. Strength training relies on using one’s body weight with or without additional weight for resistance to load the tendon and associated muscles to strengthen the calf. Do exercises slowly to decrease pain, improve mobility, and return to normal functioning.
1) Heel-raise: Stand with your feet a few inches apart. Raise up on to your tiptoes and lift the heels by using both legs. Then lower yourself down using the affected leg. Perform 3 sets of 15 repetitions twice per day. This exercise can also be performed seated in a chair.
2) Calf stretch: Stand a few steps away from a wall and place your hands at about eye level. Place the leg you want to stretch about a step behind the other leg and bend the knee of the front leg until you feel a stretch in the back leg. Remember to keep your heels planted. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 3 to 4 times before switching to the other leg. Repeat twice per day.
3) Towel stretch: Sit with both knees straight on the ground and loop a towel around the affected foot. Gently pull on the towel until a comfortable stretch is felt in the calf. Hold position for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 3 to 4 times before switching to the other leg. Repeat two to three times per day.
Next Article in Series: 10 Effective Home Remedies to Treat Achilles Tendon Pain
Have you hurt your Achilles tendon? Is that giving you terrible pain in your calf and restricting your movement? Achilles tendon pain might be a common issue, but can get complicated if ignored.
So, how can you treat this ailment? There are a number of excellent home remedies that can treat the pain very effectively! Here are 10 of them to try:
This plant-based oil is used for treating a number of ailments and problems, from stomach pains to dandruff and even wrinkles. Castor oil is also the oil of choice for treating Achilles tendon pain. How does the oil do so much? We know that castor oil is a triglyceride, which comprises of almost 90 percent ricinoleic acid, a potent anti-inflammatory agent. It is this acid in castor oil that relieves pain and inflammation of the Achilles tendon when applied to the affected areas.
Vitamin E oil is a potent antioxidant. Vitamin E helps in relieving inflammation and pain by cleaning up free radicals from the body that cause pain. The oil also supports circulatory function, which helps to relieve soreness and inflammation.
Turmeric, as we know, is a wonder spice. It is an excellent remedy for Achilles tendon pain because of the presence of curcumin. Scientific community is united in proclaiming that curcumin is one of the best natural painkillers available.
Last year, the European Journal of Pharmacologypublished a paper that explained how curcumin works as a painkiller. According to it, curcumin reduces pain by activating the opioid system that is linked to our body’s pain-relieving response. Curcumin also serves as an anti-inflammatory.
You can reap the pain-relieving benefits of turmeric by using it as a tincture or as turmeric tea or even garnishing your dishes using this super spice. Other ways of using turmeric are making a turmeric poultice and applying it to your painful Achilles tendon to encourage circulation and reduce swelling.
Achilles tendon injuries are mostly caused due to overuse. So, proper rest is an effective self-care technique for reducing Achilles tendon pain. Give your Achilles tendon some rest and avoid activities like climbing stairs, running and even walking about too much that strain the tendon. We would suggest that you switch to swimming for exercise. Have patience though, as Achilles tendon pain takes anything between days to weeks and even months to heal.
Application of ice packs for a duration of 20 minutes brings down Achilles pain substantially. This works by reducing the blood flow thereby bringing down the pain almost instantaneously.
Massage the affected area as it increases blood circulation and decreases the pain. We also suggest that you do gentle stretches and strengthening exercises to heal. Calf stretches work the best.
Smoking slows down healing by decreasing the blood supply to the affected tissues and delays tissue repair. This means that you will have to bear the tendon pain longer. So stop smoking tobacco products.
We suggest that you go for athletic shoes that support the arch of your affected foot and cushion the heel. This shoe gives a chance for the Achilles tendon to heal. Silicone heel pads are also a good option as these reduce the pressure on the Achilles tendon. These are not home remedies as such but some of the ways in which you can stem Achilles pain.
This will restrict the movement of the Achilles tendon, thus reducing pain. You can also use the bandage when you are sleeping as it will stop involuntary movements of your foot which can increase Achilles tendon pain.
This will prevent your tendon from shortening and stiffening while you sleep. The Achilles tendon will get optimum rest this way while you are sleeping, making sure that you experience less pain and stiffness in your calf and heel during daytime.
These are the effective home remedies for Achilles tendon pain. We also suggest that you lose weight if you are overweight, to stop repeated Achilles tendon injuries. Do let us know if our suggestions have helped you in reducing Achilles tendon pain. Feel free to post comments in the section below!