What is Achilles Tendonitis?
Your Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in your body and attaches the calf muscle to the heel bone. Achilles Tendonitis is what doctors call a repetitive strain injury involving lower leg muscles and tendons at the point where they attach to the bone. This overuse injury results in pain at the back of the ankle. Chronic overuse can lead to small tears within the tendon which cause long-term weakening. If the Achilles tendon gets weak enough, the tendon can become susceptible to rupture and possibly require surgery.
What causes Achilles Tendonitis injuries?
The two most common causes of chronic Achilles tendonitis are lack of flexibility and over-pronation. It may be caused by a single incident of over-stressing the tendon, or it may result from a series of stresses from overuse that produce small tears over time.
Achilles tendonitis is most frequently caused by overuse or repeated movements. These movements can happen while playing sports, work or other activities. If the sports you play involve a lot of pushing off or stop-and-go motions, you can get micro-tears in the tendon. These small tears can also occur with a change in your exercise routine and may not be able to heal quickly or completely.
You may also experience Achilles tendonitis if you are out of shape or make a habit of not warming up properly before exercising. The type or condition of your footwear can also be the culprit. Shoes with poor arch supports or high heels can help cause Achilles tendon pain. Wearing shoes that have become worn and lost their cushion can also contribute to you developing Achilles tendonitis.
Other possible factors that can increase your risk of Achilles tendonitis injuries are:
- Sports and physical activity: Overuse and repeated movements can cause injury and weaken the Achilles tendon. Additionally, playing sports increases the risk of Achilles tendonitis.
- Age: Most cases of Achilles tendonitis occur in people over 30 years old. As you age, the blood supply to the Achilles tendon area decreases and your risk of sustaining an injury in that area increases.
- Weight: Overweight people have a greater risk of suffering due to the extra weight they carry creates extra strain on the legs.
- Exercise and training issues: Improper warm up before running or participating in sporting activities, you can increase your risk of Achilles tendonitis. If you also suddenly change your training program intensity or the surfaces you run on, your risk factors could increase.
- Gender: Men are more likely than women to have an Achilles tendonitis injury.
- High cholesterol: If your family has a history of high cholesterol, you have a higher risk of developing Achilles tendonitis issues.
- Flat or hyperpronated feet: People who have flat feet or feet that turn inward while walking (hyperpronation) are prone to Achilles tendonitis. The flattened arch pulls on calf muscles and forces the Achilles tendon to be tightly strained. This constant stress on the heel and tendon can cause the tendon to become inflamed and painful.