Are you at risk of an Achilles Tendinopathy

Achilles tendinopathy is a non inflammatory, degenerative tendon injury that is a prevalent injury associated with running and jumping based athlete. This change in the tendon comes from an excessive overload on the tendon that causes a degenerative change. Multiple risk factors are associated with an Achilles tendinopathy and know which one is affecting you is important. Here at PhysioHealth we offer comprehensive screening and strengthening programs specific to Achilles tendinopathies. One of the more common injuries that affect runners and triathletes is Achilles pain, more specifically an injury known as an Achilles tendinopathy. Though the injury is highly prevalent within these sports the understanding can be quite poor. Basically an Achilles tendinopathy is a non inflammatory, degenerative change to the Achilles tendon. The tendinopathy and either occur at the insertion of the tendon at the heel or the mid-point of the tendon. So how does this change occur within the tendon? The degenerative change in the tendon comes from an overuse (also referred as an overloading) of the tendon. Understanding this change is important to the rehabilitation process. Under a normal load, of any exercise, our body goes through a natural wearing out process which triggers the body to react and adapt. To reinforce this natural adaption the body has made, a recovery period (being sleep and rest) allows the body to repair and recover. The balance between wear and repair is highly important for tendons. Once the balance has shifted to more of an increase in tendon wearing with less recovery, the tendon degenerative process begins. Ongoing periods of increased wear of the tendon the Achilles will gradually degenerate to a point that creates pain and restriction with activity. Recently tendinopathies have been characterised into categories;
  • The reactive stage - (really irritated and stirred up with minimal activity),
  • The disrepair stage , (niggly and irritated if exercising above a certain level) and
  • The degenerative stage (full blown long term changes).
So how do people usually overload their Achilles tendon? The following a sample of risk factors that are associated with Achilles tendinopathy.
  • Previous or recent leg injuries including Tendinopathies
  • Age, gender and weight
  • Biomechanics including muscle strength, ROM and foot strike
  • Training errors including changes in loading, change in training technique, sudden changes in activity (ramping up or recovery periods/lay off), recent alteration in training (duration, frequency and distance).
The identifying risk factors that are contributing to the onset of the tendinopathy is highly important in reducing the pain and returning back to full function. The more common of the risk factors associated with an Achilles tendinopathy is from training errors. A prime example of overloading is a runner that increases their distance too rapidly without waiting an appropriate recovery/repairing period to happen. Being able to identify the factor that is contributing the most to your Achilles tendon pain can be difficult to identify yourself. Here at PhysioHealth we offer comprehensive screening and strengthening programs specific to Achilles Tendinopathies. Screenings are aimed at highlighting potential areas that may need attention, and strengthening these areas to reduce the risk and prevent injuries ever occurring.
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