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Achilles Tendinitis: All You Should Know

Achilles tendinitis is an overuse injury that occurs in the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscles to your heel. It is typically caused by improper conditioning, either in runners who increase the intensity or length of their runs too quickly, or in “weekend warriors,” who only participate in athletics on the weekends, and don’t properly condition during the week.

Here’s everything you need to know about identifying, treating, and preventing this type of injury, as well as information on when you should see an ankle specialist in Conroe, TX.

Identifying Symptoms

Achilles tendinitis usually presents as an aching pain in the calf or just above the heel. It will typically flare up after athletic activity, and could become more severe after extended periods of running. You may also have some tenderness or stiffness in the area when waking in the morning, which improves with stretching and mild activity.

Risk Factors and Causes

As mentioned above, Achilles tendinitis is usually caused by poor conditioning. If the Achilles tendon is not properly stretched and strengthened prior to your physical activities, it can become strained and may even tear. There are also a number of other risk factors that can make you more susceptible to this injury:

  • Gender – Men are more prone to Achilles tendinitis.
  • Age – Because the structure of the Achilles tendon weakens with age, this condition becomes more common as you reach middle age.
  • Flat arches – This puts more strain on your Achilles tendon.
  • Obesity – Being overweight will put additional strain on your tendons and ligaments and make you more susceptible to injury.
  • Improper footwear – If your shoes are worn out or don’t offer proper support, you’re increasing your chances of developing Achilles tendinitis.
  • Exercising on uneven terrain – Running on uneven or hilly terrain requires your Achilles tendon to stretch and flex much more, which increases the odds of injury and tendinitis.
  • Medical conditions – Individuals with psoriasis or high blood pressure have proven to be at a higher risk of Achilles tendinitis.

While it’s not possible to completely prevent Achilles tendinitis, doing the following things can significantly decrease your risk:

  • Increase activity slowly – Whether you’re an avid athlete or new to exercise, always amp up the intensity of your workouts gradually.
  • Warm up properly – Be sure to stretch and warm up before any physical activity.
  • Wear supportive footwear – Your shoes should provide adequate cushioning under your heels, and firm arch support.
  • Stretch daily – In addition to stretching before and after your workouts, stretch every morning as well. This improves the flexibility of your tendons to prevent injury and tendinitis.
  • Strengthen calf muscles – Strong calf muscles help your Achilles tendon to better endure the stresses of your physical exercise.
  • Alternate exercises – Don’t do high-impact activities every day. Alternate between high-impact activities like running, and low-impact exercises like swimming or cycling.

When to See a Doctor

Most instances of Achilles tendinitis can be treated with proper rest and putting ice on the injury. However, if the pain persists, you should seek the help of a doctor. Additionally, if your pain is severe, it may indicate that you’ve ruptured your Achilles tendon, and you should find an ankle doctor in Conroe, TX, right away.