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The Grecian deity, Achilles, was renowned as the omnipotent hero of the Trojan War. He was a potent character with one fatal weakness; his invulnerability was decimated by a heel wound, which killed him. The Achilles tendon received its name from this potent god and the muscle itself has much in common with the divine warrior. The tendon, which runs between the calf muscle and heel bone, is remarkably sturdy. Despite its strength, during 2012 it is believed to have been the focus of more than 250,000 sports injuries.
Achilles tendonitis is an overuse injury that results in inflammation and the breakdown of tissue. In some cases, tiny tears occur and when injuries are left untended, a complete rupture can occur. The pain of tendonitis in this region tends to creep up on patients at a snail`s pace, beginning with a slight pinch and ending in debilitating swelling, bruising and pain. Recreational athletes are more prone to the problem than professionals are, possibly because of the sudden alterations in mileage and insufficient flexibility training amateurs tend to put themselves through. After middle age, the muscles become inflexible, which often results in increased tearing and injury.
Achilles tendonitis pain is localized immediately behind the heel in the watershed tendon zone where blood supply weakens. The reduced circulation in the area means that less oxygen and nutrients are transported through narrow capillaries. Lack of healing resources makes the muscle less capable of repairing itself. Excessive long-term use of the same tendons can cause sudden trauma and injury or chronic inflammation and pain. The former acute response is immediately felt after trauma and swelling occurs more rapidly. Shooting pain will be felt behind the ankle immediately above the heel, with an isolated zone that is particularly tender when touched. The more gradual development of chronic Achilles tendonitis occurs when this rigid muscle is repetitively used without receiving time to heal.
As a preventative measure, flexibility training and warm ups should focus on loosening the calf muscle, Achilles tendon and gastrocnemius muscles. When the calf muscle is shortened as a result of stiffness, the Achilles zone is placed under increased pressure, particularly when there is a sudden change made to exercise routines. Adding mileage, intensity and speed to workouts without preparation often results in tendonitis.
Tendonitis becomes more severe if it is ignored. At the first sign of pain, training hours should be cut back while stretching and calf strengthening exercises are increased to offer support to the weakened tendon. Adapting your training schedule slightly by taking up cross training and omitting hill and high speed running may give the area the opportunity to flex and heal. Placing your training into professional hands can also help you to adapt your routines to prevent further damage and support healing.
The medical community used to believe that most tendon injuries were the result of inflammation. In recent years, physicians have learned to distinguish between the swelling associated with tendonitis and the overuse associated with tendinopathy, which does not typically present itself with inflammation. The latter condition needs its own treatment, since its cause is different. Acute tendonitis responds more rapidly to treatment using anti-inflammatories whereas tendinopathy` s degeneration can be particularly challenging to mend. Tissues need to be strengthened so that the body can naturally rebuild itself.
Chronic tendonitis is responsive to the application of compression and ice together with rest and elevation. This is likely to dampen pain temporarily and bring down swelling. This conservative technique is usually all the area needs to recover, but those with tendinopathy generally need more long-term treatments. When pain is unresponsive to conventional techniques, it is necessary to rehabilitate the area according to the advice and care of a sports doctor and physiotherapist. Modern techniques use massage, ultrasound and splints to encourage healing. Medications, including NSAIDS and orthotics available at Thehealthcounter, can help reach a full recovery.