The Achilles tendon is the band of tissues connecting the muscle in the back of your leg (gastrocnemius-soleus) to your heel bone. Achilles tendinitis is an injury that occurs when your Achilles tendon becomes inflamed or irritated.
The signs and symptoms of Achilles tendinitis often develop gradually. You’ll feel pain and stiffness in your Achilles, especially when you first get out of bed. The pain lessens as you warm up, and may even disappear as you continue running. Once you stop, the pain returns and may feel even worse. You may also notice a crackling or creaking sound when you touch or move your Achilles tendon.
When you place a large amount of stress on your Achilles tendon too quickly, it can become inflamed from tiny tears that occur during the activity. Achilles tendinitis is often a result of over-training or doing too much too soon. Excessive hill running can contribute to it. Flattening of the arch of your foot can place you at increased risk of developing Achilles tendinitis because of the extra stress placed on your Achilles tendon when walking or running.
If you’re just getting started with your training, be sure to stretch before and after running, and start slowly, increasing your mileage by no more than 10% per week. Strengthen your calf muscles with exercises such as toe raises also low-impact cross-training activities, such as cycling and swimming, into your training.
Use the R.I.C.E method of treatment when you first notice the pain.
Rest is a key part of treating tendinitis, prolonged inactivity can cause stiffness in your joints. Move the injured ankle through its full range of motion and perform gentle Achilles tendon stretches to maintain joint flexibility.
If self-care doesn’t work, it’s important to get the injury treated because if the tendon continues to sustain small tears through movement, it can rupture under excessive stress. A ruptured Achilles tendon usually occurs when inflammation has been chronic. One often needs surgery if the tendon ruptures and is very painful. Your doctor may suggest a temporary foot insert that elevates your heel and may relieve strain on the tendon. Physical therapy may also help allow the tendon to heal and repair itself over a period of weeks.