How to Recover from Achilles Injuries
Inflammation of the Achilles tendon (Achilles Tendonitis) is a common complaint amongst runners. The inflammation is usually caused by an injury to the Achilles, or simply by overusing it during training.
Overuse of the Achilles
Here are some of the ways you can avoid overworking your Achilles tendon:
- Try not to overtrain.
- If you’re starting a new type of exercise, introduce it into your training programme gradually and give your body time to adjust. If you’ve had a break from running, start training again with short, gentle runs rather than jumping straight into a rigorous routine.
- Always wear the right type of footwear for the exercise you’re doing and invest in some good quality running shoes.
- Warm up before each training session.
- Try to vary your training programme so it doesn’t become too repetitive. It should include a mixture of high and low impact exercise.
- Underlying foot problems can affect your Achilles – see your doctor or physiotherapist if you think an Achilles pain stems from a different area of your foot, leg or ankle.
Sprains and tears are the most common Achilles injuries. They’re usually caused when you make a sudden movement or overstretch the ligament, for example by jumping, lunging, falling or suffering a direct blow to the ankle.
Sometimes these injuries can be serious making it hard to walk or put your foot on the floor. If you’re suffering some symptoms from the list below you should make an appointment to see your doctor.
- Straight after the injury you felt a pain just above your heel. With time this may have changed to a constant dull pain.
- You’ve got limited movement of your ankle, meaning you can’t walk or run normally.
- There’s swelling or heat around your Achilles.
Although you should always see your doctor if you’re worried about a sporting injury or condition, there are several easy ways you can treat an inflamed Achilles yourself. The tips below can help reduce pain and swelling, aiding a quick recovery:
- Rest your leg to give the ankle a chance to settle down – if you continue training with an inflamed Achilles you’re likely to make it worse.
- If there’s any swelling, elevate your leg so the fluid can drain away from your ankle. Applying pressure to your ankle with a bandage will also help reduce swelling, but there’s no need to do this when your leg is elevated.
- To ease pain, wrap ice in a towel and hold it over your Achilles for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Protect your Achilles from further injury while it’s recovering - you can do this by keeping it covered and supported, or putting a heel raise in your shoe.
- A few days after the injury, do some gentle exercise to get the tendon moving again. You’ll feel your Achilles stretching but this shouldn’t be painful.
- When you’re comfortable with gentle exercising and stretching, gradually increase to a jog and begin easing back into your training programme.