What is it and why is it affecting my running?
Pain at the back of your heel is commonly caused by overuse of the thick band-like structure that attaches your calf muscle to your heel bone. This is called the Achilles Tendon and plays an important role in helping your ankle absorb force and allow your calf muscles to function.
Common symptoms of Achilles tendinopathy include:
- Localised pain at the back of your heel and lower leg (below calf muscle)
- Morning stiffness and pain that improves with movement
- Pain with walking or running, often worse uphills
- Often no specific incident of injury, getting gradually worse over time
The main reason why runners are susceptible to this injury is that the achilles tendon is exposed to a force of 6-8 times the person’s body weight every time the ankle hits the ground during running. The achilles tendon is even exposed to a force of 2-4 times an individual’s body weight every step whilst walking!
- Training errors*** (often recent change in running load, terrain, shoes, technique)
- Tissue health (including calf weakness and tightness, overall leg strength and endurance)
- Previous injury
- General health, nutrition, stress
1: Settle pain and modify load
- Reduce loading of achilles with changes in running program, “offload” achilles with heel wedge.
- Decrease pain with appropriate strategies such as light “holding” exercises, massage, ice.
2: Improve tissue capacity and gradually return to running
- Strengthening exercises of calf, knee and hip
- Graded return to running program
3: Return to full sport and activity
- Maintain strength and control
- Consider changes to running technique and training habits
If you are ready to take the next step forward in your recovery, book in for your physio treatment. Your highly skilled Physio will perform a thorough assessment, provide effective treatment and set you up with a treatment plan towards recovery.
1. Fröberg Å, Komi P, Ishikawa M, Movin T, Arndt A. Force in the Achilles Tendon During Walking With Ankle Foot Orthosis. The American Journal of Sports Medicine. 2009;37(6):1200-1207. doi:10.1177/0363546508330126
Lorimer, Anna V., and Patria A. Hume. “Achilles tendon injury risk factors associated with running.” Sports Medicine 44.10 (2014): 1459-1472.