Achilles Tendinopathy: A real pain in the heel

Achilles tendinopathy is a common overuse injury that we see at FNQ Podiatry & Orthotics. It is often due to a sudden increase in exercise or a change in training technique

Common symptoms associated with Achilles tendinopathy are pain directly on the back of the heel, stiffness and pain first thing in the morning or just after rest and in some cases, some swelling may be seen around the area.

We are currently seeing an influx patient’s experiencing Achilles tendinopathy due to new exercise regimes. Here is a 5-step simple guide to help settle your pain and help you return to exercise.

5 step guide for reducing pain at the back of your heel or achilles tendon

1. Rest

  • As tendinopathy is an overuse injury, moderated rest can be the best thing for it in the short-term
  • Moderated rest focuses on activity modification rather than complete rest.. e.g avoid hill running or sprint training and focus on strength work, cycling or low intensity runs but with increased frequency. E.g. rather than doing one long 10-20km run/week, do 2-3x 5kms runs/week

2. Ice packs

  • Grab some frozen peas or some Ice cubes from the freezer and wrap it in a tea towel and apply directly to the site.
  • Application can lead to suppressing the associated inflammation.
  • It is essential to not apply for a long period of time as this can cause more harm than good! We recommend 5-10 minutes. Repeat at least 3x daily for the first week.

3. Footwear

  • It is important to avoid causing more tension throughout the Achilles. The most common mistake people have when rehabilitating an Achilles injury is being barefoot or in flat thongs around home!
  • We recommend wearing a pair of joggers as they have a slight heel inbuilt. This shortens the Achilles length taking unwanted tension and pain away from your heel. Ladies, if possible, wear a 2-3cm wedge around the house, particularly first thing in the morning – this will make an immediate difference

4. Warm up before getting up!

  • First step pain when you wake up in the morning is by far the most common symptom of achilles tendinopathy
  • To reduce the severity of the first step pain, we recommend using a towel to pull your toes back towards you while laying in bed. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds and repeat 3x.

5. Strengthen the Achilles

  • It is important to strengthen the Achilles to allow it to function in day-to-day life. If we return to activity without proper rehabilitation it can cause further injury and set you back even further.
  • The first exercise  we recommend is calf hold. This is done by going onto your tip-toes (80% of maximum height off the ground) and holding for thirty seconds. Do this 3x in the morning, 3x at lunch and 3x in the evening. If the pain is too much, reduce the load by doing seated calf raises.

If you are still having issues with pain at the back of your heel, give us a call and we will be happy to help!

We offer several treatment options including exercise programs, custom foot orthotics, dry needling/massage, taping and shockwave. If you are currently isolated at home, we offer telehealth services for those that cannot attend physical appointments and give you our expert advice on how to settle pain quickly and get you back doing what you love.

We are open and taking appointments. Call our friendly team on 40 455 749 or book online at www.fnqpodiatry.com.au