Preventing Achilles Tendinitis

Learn how to prevent Achilles tendinitis

Achilles tendinitis can affect anyone, regardless of age or sex. Although many people associate tendinitis with those who participate in sports like running, Achilles tendinitis can also occur in people who exercise regularly, or who like to go walking, hiking, or biking. Other causes of tendinitis include shoes that do not fit well, wearing high-heels on a daily basis, and failing to stretch and warm-up before exercise or sports.

Tendinitis of the Achilles is extremely painful. In addition to the pain, swelling and limited range of motion are also quite common. This can make it difficult to walk or run, as the discomfort and swelling increases after exercise. In severe cases, surgery may be required to repair the damage caused to the Achilles tendon.

Because Achilles tendon problems are painful, and can happen to anyone, preventing Achilles tendinitis is of the utmost importance. These tips help prevent Achilles tendinitis.

Always stretch

The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscle to the heel of the foot. The tendon is comprised of thick, fibrous tissue and is the largest and strongest tendon. Since the Achilles tendon is attached to the calf muscle, stretching before exercise or sports is very important.

The Achilles tendon does not have the ability to stretch very far. When a calf muscle is tense and not stretched before exercise, the tendon is placed under great strain. The tensed calf muscle pulls on the tendon, which can result in injury. To prevent this, the calf muscles should always be stretched prior to exercise, or participating in sports.

Stretching can also be beneficial in the morning. Muscles are often stiff after lying reclined for the night. This is especially true of the leg muscles. By stretching leg and calf muscles in the morning, the strain placed on the Achilles tendons by simple tasks such as walking at work can be lessened.

Vary activities

Placing repetitive strain on the Achilles tendons can lead to injury. Therefore, it is wise to vary exercise and sport routines. High-impact activities should always be paired with low-impact activities to give the tendons a rest.

For example, a high-impact activity such as football could be paired with a low-impact activity like swimming or horseback riding. Varying the way in which you use your Achilles tendons will greatly reduce the risk of developing tendinitis.

Wear supportive, well fitting shoes

As previously mentioned, wearing ill-fitting shoes, or wearing high-heels on a daily basis can lead to Achilles tendinitis. In fact, a study has shown that women who wear high-heels at least five days a week are doing serious damage to their Achilles tendons.

Keeping the foot at such an angle every day actually causes the calf muscles to shrink and the Achilles tendons to thicken. This makes wearing flats or walking in bare feet painful and uncomfortable. It also can result in tendinitis.

Women can wear high-heels, but should avoid doing so every day to minimize their risk of tendon damage. However, it is equally important for both men and women to wear shoes that fit well and provide support to the feet and legs. Wearing the right footwear for the task is helpful too.

For example, one should not run in flat shoes that provide no support. By wearing quality footwear that is appropriate for the task, the risk of developing Achilles tendinitis can be reduced.

Do not ignore pain

Pain is the body’s way of saying that something is wrong. Pain should never be ignored. If pain is experienced while exercising or participating in sports, the activity should be stopped until the pain resides. If the pain resumes after resting, a visit to the doctor may be necessary.

Sometimes the pain may not be immediate. For example, the discomfort may not be felt until the following day. Stiffness, swelling, and pain are all signs that your tendons need a rest. The RICE method can be particularly helpful here.

R - rest, give your body a chance to heal and rest
I - ice, use ice to bring down the swelling
C - compression, use a bandage or Ace wrap to help with swelling and support
E – elevation, prop up your injured feet to further reduce swelling

While not every case of Achilles tendinitis can be prevented, following the above tips can certainly help lessen the risk, and keep your tendons healthy and happy.

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Last Reviewed:
June 03, 2017
Last Updated:
June 03, 2017