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Achilles Tendinopathy

The Achilles tendon is the biggest and strongest tendon in the human body. Achilles tendinopathy is a condition that can cause pain, swelling, stiffness and weakness of the Achilles tendon. It is a very common injury reported in runners, however, it is not exclusive to this population as people who have a more sedentary lifestyle will also suffer from it.

Pain generally tends to be worse in the morning, or during and after exercise. Some swelling and/or pain can occur around the tendon and calf area – most often in the areas shown below.

The blue coloured area is where the Achilles tendon inserts into the heel bone and the green coloured area is roughly the mid portion of the Achilles tendon. The tendon may be very tender to touch and you may have increased discomfort wearing shoes that press against it.

The pain can be in the midportion of the tendon (Midportion Achilles tendinopathy)

Midportion Achilles tendinopathy

Or at the insertion of the Achilles tendon into the heel bone (Insertional Achilles tendinopathy).

Insertional achilles tendinopathy

The reasons for developing Achilles tendinopathy are varied but there are some common factors that seem to be important. The research consistently shows that reduced strength and endurance in the calf muscles is a major factor in developing Achilles tendinopathy. Also, being overweight will add more stress to the already struggling tendon. Footwear choice is important as the wrong shoes may nip the tendon and aggravate the problem.

Treatment of Achilles tendinopathy commonly involves loading based exercises. This basically means exercises for the affected muscle/tendon unit with the aim that it improves strength and endurance and reduces the symptoms.

Please don’t expect things to improve overnight though. It can take time for the tendon and muscles to adapt and improve. You may also find heel raises are useful to reduce the stress on the Achilles tendon while you are doing the rehabilitation, however, if they are uncomfortable, causing an increase in pain or other any other issues, then please remove them.

Exercise videos

The videos below show exercises that may be useful in strengthening the muscle to help it cope better with the demand that you are placing on it.

Don’t expect things to improve overnight though. It takes time for muscles and joints to adapt and get stronger

Please stop any of the exercises if they cause your foot pain to increase or cause any discomfort.

Please note: If you do not see any sign of improvement after 6 -8 weeks of following the advice and exercises then you may need to see a Podiatrist for more advice and support.

Patient Information

To find out more about Achilles Tendinopathy, including information about exercises, visit our webpage.