Achilles Tendinopathy – My Experience
Many of us have experienced frustrating interruptions to our favourite sport, fitness, hobbies and leisure activities due to tendon pain. Overloading a tendon, by changing or increasing activity levels may cause a tendinopathy, previously termed tendonitis.
Tendons connect muscle to bone and are found all throughout the body. Tendinopathies commonly occur in the shoulder (rotator cuff tendinopathy), elbow (tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow), knee (patella tendinopathy) and ankle (achilles tendinopathy).
Tendinopathies are broadly categorized into three groups;
- Reactive Tendinopathy – acute response to overload
- Tendon Dysrepair – overloaded tendon is not rested and requires further intervention
- Degenerative Tendinopathy – chronic tendon pathology
Further information and education will be provided on tendinopathies in a future blog. Today, I want to discuss my personal experience with an achilles tendinopathy and confirm the benefits of physiotherapy management.
A couple of months ago, I decided it was time to get fit for the upcoming football season. I was already jogging a couple of times per week, usually for about 20-30 minutes at the beach and occasionally on the road.
I am particularly aware of the concept of load management (see previous blog on load management here), however the lure of reaching my fitness goal quickly was too great. I know this story is familiar with many of you as I hear it regularly in the clinic.
I foolishly committed a trifecta of mistakes by increasing the frequency, intensity and duration of my running sessions. I commenced training three times per week, introduced sprint training and rapidly progressed to 10Km road runs.
Not surprisingly in hindsight, I developed mild achilles tendon and calf pain that became apparent at the commencement of my runs. Being stubborn, I continued to run another couple of times before deciding a week’s rest might be a good idea.
Fortunately, I enjoy gym training and I’m currently learning how to surf so I could use cross training to maintain my sanity. However, whilst on holiday in Noosa, I succumbed to the temptation of a run through the beautiful national park… bad move!
It was that moment that I finally swallowed my pride and accepted that I did in fact have a reactive Achilles tendinopathy. I reflected on the numerous conversations I have had with our wonderful patients and recognized many similarities. It is often ‘that’ moment when they attend our clinic for an appointment.
Stay tuned for the second part of my story and learn how a Sports Physiotherapist manages his own achilles tendinopathy.