Tightness and pain at the back of the heel and lower calf is a common problem particularly amongst the sporting population. The causes are often multifactorial, but the latest evidence based research suggests particular treatment protocols are more effective than others.
What is a Tendon?
Pain and tightness in the achilles either at its’ attachment at the heel bone, or in the mid portion often with bands of thickening in the tendon
Pain is usually worse when the muscles and tendon are not warmed up e.g., arising from bed in the morning
Depending on its severity, pain and tightness may lessen as you warm up, but if more serious, will gradually worsen again as activity increases. It will often be stiff and painful after activity or sport
In acute cases, the Achilles tendon will be inflamed and swelling may be present. In chronic cases, the tendon may be thickened.
Achilles tendinopathies are often multifactorial in cause, but definite features are asymmetrical and / or excessive loading on the tendon due to poor biomechanics in any region of the musculoskeletal system.
Non-optimal movement strategies anywhere in the body can cause compensatory movement patterns in the lower limbs placing excessive, and usually repetitive strain on the Achilles tendon. Other factors that contribute to Achilles injuries are:
Healing and recovery times for Achilles problems vary largely depending on the cause and the severity of tissue damage. However, if the primary cause is diagnosed and addressed quickly, then the body’s natural healing processes will occur and you will have significant improvement within days, but full tissue healing usually takes six weeks or more.