The Achilles is the strong tendon on the back of the ankle that connects the calf to the heel bone. As a tendon, it is made of strong connective tissue to attach the muscle to the bone efficiently. Strong tensile forces are projected through the tendon as the calf contracts and relaxes to give propulsion during walking and running. This can be up to 10 times your body weight when running and can cause the Achilles to get aggravated and tight, causing pain. This is commonly due to weakness, or compensation further up the chain, causing the foot to land inefficiently and stressing the Achilles unnecessarily. This is also often caused by bad running technique.
The Achilles will present with pain on palpation around the tendon, especially when you pinch it either on the tendon itself or on the insertion onto the heel bone. This can track to the medial or lateral aspect of the calcaneus (heel bone). The calf will often feel very tight and stiff too. Typically, the pain is worse in the morning with the first few steps, then can ease off throughout the day. However, an increased amount of walking or activity can then aggravate the pain again.
If you think you have an Achilles issue, the best action is to ice it to decrease the inflammation. Rest from impact activity and start on gentle calf stretching. The Achilles will need manual therapy to break down the scar tissue caused by the inflammation and then rehabilitation to re-strengthen the foot and calf and correct dysfunctional movement patterns causing the increased load.
(The list of conditions given above and subsequent explanations are intended as a general guide and should not be considered a replacement for a full medical examination. Furthermore, we do not purport to treat all the conditions listed. Should you wish to discuss any of these conditions with our chiropractors, please do not hesitate to phone the clinic on 020 7374 2272 or email firstname.lastname@example.org).