I see lots of people with Achilles problems. It can be a niggling problem that grumbles on and on. The reason being that it’s difficult to rest an Achilles tendon as you need to walk! People often think ‘no pain no gain’ and struggle on but when it comes to a tendonitis the more you feel the pain the longer it will last. So, the best advice is back off, rest it and let it heal.
Self management includes:
- icing it daily for 10 mins with the ice wrapped in a damp teatowel to protect your skin from an ice burn
- stretching your Achilles – normal calf stretch held for 40 seconds within pain limits and repeated 5 times a day
- take the pressure of it so wear a shoe with a small heal, this shortens the tendon so allows it to heal. This does make the stretching more important so that it doesn’t heal permanently shortened as you’re likely to re-tear it
- exercise off loaded – cycling, swimming unless they hurt too. If it hurts don’t do it!
Depending on the severity of the tendonitis, it may take up to 6 weeks before you’re back exercising again. At the point that the pain just goes do NOT go out and run on it straight away! It is still healing. The pain going tells you that the inflammation is going but it takes a good 7 to 10 days before the muscle is back to full strength. During this time you are prone to re-injury. When you do re-start take your time and gradually build up the duration of exercise or the intensity, don’t do both together.
Physiotherapy will speed up your recovery, both ultrasound and acupuncture can help as well as soft tissue work. Also, see my previous post on an anti-inflammatory diet which will help to reduce symptoms.