Achilles tendonitis is an injury that occurs when your Achilles tendon (the large band of tissues connecting the muscles in the back of your lower leg to your heel bone) becomes irritated and inflamed. The signs of Achilles tendonitis often manifest slowly and gradually. You'll feel pain and stiffness in your Achilles, especially the moment you first get out of bed or after you cool down from exercising. Achilles pain usually lessens as you get warm, and may even disappear altogether as you continue exercising. The pain returns and may feel even worse once you stop exercising and cool down. When you stretch your Achilles tendon, you may feel a “crackling” or “creaking” sensation in the tendon.
Achilles tendinitis is caused from tiny tears in the tendon which occur during exercise when you place a large amount of stress on your Achilles tendon too quickly. Achilles tendonitis is frequently a result of overtraining, or doing too much too soon. Excessive up-hill running can contribute to it. Flattening of the arch of your foot (excess pronation) can place you at increased risk of developing Achilles tendonitis because of the extra stress placed on your Achilles tendon when the foot is in this position while walking or running.
If you're just beginning with your exercise, make sure to stretch after running and also - start slowly! Increase your running or walking distance by no more than ten percent per week. Strengthen your calf muscles with exercises such as toe raises will also help to prevent Achilles problems. Add low-impact cross-training activities, for example, cycling and swimming, into your training program.
When you first notice the pain, use the R.I.C.E method of treatment. Although rest is a key part of treating tendonitis, prolonged lack of exercise can cause further stiffness in your Achilles tendon. Move the injured Achilles by moving your ankle joint through its full range of motion and perform gentle calf and ankle stretches to preserve flexibility.
If self-care doesn't work, it's important to get the injury treated because if the tendon continues to sustain small tears through activity, it may rupture completely. Your health professional may recommend seeing a Podiatrist and/or a Physical Therapist. A temporary foot insert which elevates your heel and addresses flattened arches may relieve strain on the tendon.