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Injury Prevention

Prevention and Treatment Strategies for Achilles Injury - Part 1

Brad Walker provides an overview of the causes and treatment of Achilles tendon injuries

Achilles injuries are associated with sports that require a lot of running, jumping and change of direction. Excessive twisting or turning of the ankle and foot can result in a rupture or strain. The sports that are most susceptible to Achilles injury include running, walking, cycling, football, basketball and tennis.

What is an Achilles tendon Injury?

The Achilles tendon is located at the rear (posterior) of the bottom half of the lower leg and is used to plantar flex the foot or point the foot downward. This allows a person the run, jump and stand on one's toes.

The Achilles tendon is the strongest tendon of the body, and able to withstand a 1000-pound force without tearing. Despite this, the Achilles ruptures more frequently than any other tendon because of the tremendous pressures placed on it during competitive sports.

There are two main types of injuries that affect the Achilles tendon; Achilles Tendonitis and Achilles Tendon Rupture.

Achilles Tendonitis is simply an inflammation of the tendon, and in most cases is caused by excessive training over an extended period of time.

Achilles Tendon Rupture, on the other hand, is a tear (or complete snapping) of the tendon, and usually occurs as the result of a sudden or unexpected force. In the case of a complete rupture, the only treatment available is to place the lower leg in a plaster cast for 6 to 8 weeks, or surgery. As both of these treatments are beyond the scope of this newsletter, we'll be focusing the rest of this article on Achilles Tendonitis.

Causes and Risk Factors

There are a number of causes and risk factors associated with Achilles Tendonitis. One of the most common causes is simply a lack of conditioning. If the tendon, and muscles that connect to the tendon, have not been trained or conditioned, this can lead to a weakness that may result in an Achilles injury.

Overtraining is also associated with Achilles Tendonitis. Doing too much, too soon places excessive strain on the Achilles tendon and doesn't allow the tendon enough time to recovery properly. Over time small tears and general degeneration result in a weakening of the tendon, which leads to inflammation and pain.

Other causes of Achilles injury include a lack of warming up and stretching. Wearing inadequate footwear, running or training on uneven ground, and simply standing on, or in something you're not meant to. Biomechanical problems such as high arched feet or flat feet can also lead to Achilles injuries.

So, what are some of the things you can do to help prevent Achilles Tendonitis?

  1. Warm Up properly A thorough warm up is essential to get the body ready for any activity. A well-structured warm up will prepare your heart, lungs, muscles, joints and your mind for strenuous activity
  2. Plyometric Training Plyometric drills include jumping, skipping, bounding, and hopping type activities. These explosive types of exercises help to condition and prepare the muscles, tendons and ligaments in the lower leg and ankle joint
  3. Balancing Exercises Any activity that challenges your ability to balance, and keep your balance, will help what's called proprioception: - your body's ability to know where its limbs are at any given time
  4. Stretch and Strengthen I will cover these in a lot more detail in part 2 when I discuss rehabilitation and conditioning exercises
  5. Footwear Be aware of the importance of good footwear. A good pair of shoes will help to keep your ankles stable, provide adequate cushioning, and support your foot and lower leg during the running or walking motion

In part 2, I will be outlining a comprehensive initial and ongoing treatment program to make recovery from Achilles Tendonitis as quick as possible.


Article Reference

This article first appeared in:

  • WALKER, B. (2006) Prevention and Treatment Strategies for Achilles Injury - Part 1. Brian Mackenzie's Successful Coaching, (ISSN 1745-7513/ 29 / February), p. 4

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • WALKER, B. (2006) Prevention and Treatment Strategies for Achilles Injury - Part 1 [WWW] Available from: https://www.brianmac.co.uk/articles/scni29a2.htm [Accessed

About the Author

Brad Walker is a prominent Australian sports trainer with more than 15 years' experience in the health and fitness industry. Brad is a Health Science graduate of the University of New England and has postgraduate accreditations in athletics, swimming and triathlon coaching. He also works with elite level and world champion athletes and lectures for Sports Medicine Australia on injury prevention. Brad can be contacted via his website at injuryfix.com

Related Pages

The following Sports Coach pages provide additional information on this topic:

Stretching Stretching