Connecting your calf muscle to your heel, the Achilles tendon is the strongest in your entire body — but that doesn’t mean it can’t be injured. Achilles tendonitis is a fairly common medical problem, affecting about a quarter of athletes, including student-athletes and recreational athletes.
While tendonitis involves inflammation and irritation of the tendon, Achilles tendon rupture is an even more serious issue when the tendon snaps or tears. Occurring most often between the ages of 20-50 years, Achilles tendon ruptures can cause significant pain and disability. While both of these injuries can be treated successfully, ideally, you’d like to prevent them in the first place.
At Forward Foot & Ankle, our team helps patients at Midtown Manhattan and Staten Island, New York practices prevent tendon injuries with lifestyle changes and preventive treatments, like laser therapy, at the earliest signs of tendon issues. In this post, learn how to protect your Achilles tendon from injury.
Your shoes provide support for your body and shock absorption for your Achilles tendon and your feet. If your shoes don’t fit properly or if they’re not designed for your activity, every time you put your foot down, you can be straining your Achilles tendon.
In addition to choosing shoes for your sport, make sure the shoes you select have good arch support and plenty of cushioning in the heel area. Replace shoes frequently to avoid problems when your shoes become worn out.
Stretching is vital before exercise to warm up the muscles' activity. It's also a good idea to stretch when you get out of bed in the morning. Regular stretching helps keep your tendon and muscles limber so they're prepared to adapt to strain.
When you're ready to increase your exercise intensity or add a new activity to your routine, it's always a good idea to go slowly. Increasing gradually gives your tendon and muscles a chance to adjust, reducing the risk of inflammation and tendon tears.
Hard surfaces, like cement or pavement, strain your feet, ankles, and tendons. Opt for a trail for running or a grass field for playing sports when possible.
Doing the same activities over and over again can cause repetitive injuries and extra strain on your Achilles tendon and calf muscle. Cross-training involves mixing up your exercises and activities to reduce the repetitive strain and help protect your tendon health. If you routinely do high-impact activities, be sure to work in some low-impact alternatives regularly to give your tendons a break.
Weak calf muscles increase the strain on your Achilles tendon. Work in exercises that build up your calf strength, like lunges, squats, and calf raises. And as with any other exercise, start slowly with low reps and work up to greater intensity over time.
While exercising, stop at the first sign of pain — never “play through the pain.” After exercising, gently feel along your Achilles tendon to check for areas of tenderness that could mean a tendon strain. If you feel any pain or stiffness — even minor symptoms — call the office and schedule an appointment so we can evaluate your tendon and treat it as needed.
Achilles injuries are surprisingly common, and that means it’s crucial for you to do all you can to keep your tendon healthy and functional. If you have any tendon symptoms, including pain and stiffness, we can help.
Delaying care can lead to far more serious injuries and dramatically increase your risk of a tendon rupture. To find out how we can help you avoid serious tendon injuries, call 718-317-5215 or book an appointment online with the team at Forward Foot & Ankle today.