The calf muscle is comprised of two separate muscles, the larger muscle on the upper half of the rear of the leg called gastrocnemius and a broader flat muscle that lies deeper inside called soleus. The tendon begins just under the belly of the calf muscle and goes all the way down to attach to the back of the heel bone. This can be the site of an immense amount of pain and discomfort.
Symptoms usually develop over a prolonged period of time, often the pain is most severe when first getting out of bed in the morning. Although the condition is more common in athletes, it may affect anyone. In chronic cases, which have gone on for a long period of time, there may be a firm, swelling in the tendon which is tender to squeeze. The pain associated with Achilles Tendinitis may affect daily activities. Rest from sporting activities, or any activity which causes pain.
- Apply heat and stretch before any activities involving walking or running.
- Apply ice and stretch after activities.
- A heel lift placed in the shoes, or the use of shoes with thicker or higher heels. This, however, is only really successful when walking as most of the force on the Achilles tendon which develops when we run occurs when the heel lifts off the ground.
- Anti-inflammatory medications.
- Correcting any abnormal foot position. Occasionally a foot which pronates (rolls inward) excessively can contribute to Achilles tendonitis by creating an additional ‘twist’, or torque, in the tendon. Orthoses or more supportive footwear may help in these cases.
- Strengthening exercises for the calf muscles and tendons (‘eccentric loading’) should be discussed for conservative management.