What is Achilles Tendinopathy?
(Aliases: Achilles tendonitis, Achilles tendinitis, Achilles tendon pain, Achilles tendinosis, Achilles tendinopathy)
Most health experts now use the term Achilles tendinopathy to include both inflammation (tendonitis) and other Achilles tendon pathologies.
But many people may still use the term tendonitis out of habit.
Achilles Tendinopathy is usually an overuse injury that is common especially to joggers and jumpers, due to the repetitive action and so may occur in other activities that require the same repetitive work.
What Causes Tendon Pain?
Tendons are the tough fibres that connect muscle to bone. Most tendon injuries occur near joints, such as the shoulder, elbow, knee, and ankle. A tendon injury may seem to happen suddenly, but usually, it is the result of many tiny tears to the tendon that have occurred over time. Health professionals may use different terms to describe a tendon injury. You may hear:
Tendonitis (or Tendinitis): This means “inflammation of the tendon,” but inflammation is rarely the cause of your tendon pain.
Tendinosis: This refers to tiny tears in the tissue in and around the tendon caused by overuse.
What Causes Achilles Tendinopathy?
Achilles tendinopathy is an overuse injury that is common especially to joggers and jumpers, due to the repetitive action and so may occur in other activities that require the same repetitive work.
Most tendon injuries are the result of gradual wear and tear to the tendon from overuse or ageing. Anyone can have a tendon injury, but people who make the same motions over and over in their jobs, sports, or daily activities are more likely to damage a tendon.
A tendon injury can happen suddenly or little by little. You are more likely to have a sudden injury if the tendon has weakened over time.
Common Causes of Achilles Tendonitis include:
- Over-training or unaccustomed use – “too much too soon.”
- Excessive intensity or Distance increase
- Change in training surface – e.g. grass to bitumen
- Lack of training variation
- Poorly supportive footwear.
- Hill running.
Achilles Tendinopathy Risk Factors
- Gender: Men > Women
- Age: >30 most common
- Weight: Higher body weight increases risk
- Calf Muscle: weakness, poor endurance &/or tightness
- Poor Lower Limb Muscle Control: e.g. Poor hip and knee muscle control
- Stiff Ankle/Foot Joints
What are the Symptoms of Achilles Tendinopathy?
Achilles tendinopathy may commence as a burning pain at the beginning of an activity, which gets less during the event and then worsens following the event. The tendon may feel stiffness first thing in the morning or at the beginning of some exercise.
- Achilles tendinopathy usually causes pain, stiffness, and loss of strength in the affected area.
- The pain may get worse when you use your Achilles tendon.
- You may have more pain and stiffness during the night or when you get up in the morning.
- Your Achilles may be tender, red, warm, or a swollen lump on the Achilles tendon.
- Variable pain. Achilles pain can vary significantly depending upon your exercise load.
How is Achilles Tendinopathy Diagnosed?
Achilles tendinopathy is one of many causes of lower calf or heel pain. The correct diagnosis is vital to your treatment plan and recovery! Please seek the professional opinion of your trusted physiotherapist or sports doctor. They will base their determination on your history, symptom behaviour and clinical tests. You will rarely require diagnostic imaging in most cases of Achilles tendinopathy. In some cases, an MRI or diagnostic ultrasound may be recommended by your health practitioner in refractory cases. Achilles tendons will often have a painful and prominent lump within the tendon.
Tendinopathy is a continuum of pathological processes, and your treatment plan progresses by correct identification of the current phase of injury and the application of appropriate exercise in the rehabilitation of your injury. Inappropriate loading may delay your recovery and your return to sport.
Identification of the phase helps to identify an entry point for your rehabilitation and how much you can perform in your recovery and balancing your activity levels in your rehabilitation plan.
It is crucial to have your tendinopathy professionally assessed to identify your injury phase. Identifying your tendinopathy phase is also vital to direct your most effective treatment since specific modalities or exercises should only be applied or undertaken in distinct tendon healing phases.
Please seek the advice of your trusted physiotherapist with a particular interest in Achilles tendinopathy.
Achilles Tendinopathy Treatment
Achilles tendinopathy treatment varies significantly from how we treated the condition just a few years ago. Researchers are continually updating their treatment recommendations. Based upon that, our Achilles tendinopathy treatment protocols we regularly upgrade to the latest research-supported versions.
Achilles tendinopathy treatment can become complicated due to the high level of recurrence and patient variables. Achilles treatment also varies depending upon where you are within the tendon injury phase continuum as outlined above. The secret to a quick path to success is correctly assessing what phase you are currently in and prescribe the appropriate exercises and advise suitable for that phase. That’s exactly where the support of an up-to-date Achilles physiotherapist can fast-track your rehabilitation success.
How is Your Rehabilitation Progress Monitored?
Your physiotherapist is highly skilled in the management of Achilles tendinopathy. They aim to guide you towards a return to sport safely. Among other tests, your physiotherapist will use your pain provocation tests, strength measures, and functional activities as a valuable tool to monitor your pain, function and when to progress exercises or return to sport.
They’ll also be happy to discuss your injury rehabilitation with your coach.
How Do You Treat Achilles Tendinopathy?
Achilles tendinopathy treatment has progressed significantly in recent years. It is essential to ensure that an up-to-date Achilles tendinopathy physiotherapist treats you.
There is increasing importance in exercise in the management of tendinopathy. Isometric exercise, or exercise that the joint angle and muscle length that does not change during use, have proven pain relief effects for athletes suffering from tendinopathy.
How Does Your Physiotherapist Progress Your Treatment?
Tendinopathy treatment is progressed based on your tendon’s ability to withstand your exercises load. For most athletes, the traffic light system defines how much training is too much clearly.
Red will indicate that you need to reduce your exercise load. Amber suggests that you can exercise at your current limitations. Green indicates that you can safely increase your exercise loads.
Your physiotherapist will explain how to interpret your symptoms and plan your exercise loads based upon their assessment and your symptoms.
Managing Your Activity Load is a Priority!
Exercise load monitoring is crucial to the success of your Achilles tendinopathy. Mild load increases will stimulate new tendon growth. In contrast, overload leads to tendinopathy deterioration.
Reduce the load to a level that allows the tendon to recover. In severe cases, this may mean total rest from your sport or modifying training depending on tendinopathy severity. Discuss your activity load with your physiotherapist, who will plan and adjust your program accordingly, based upon your pain provocation tests, traffic light response to activity and other symptoms.
When managing load, you should be guided by how the tendon responds not just immediately but also 24 hours later. Tendons are known to have a latent response to loading. This latency means they can take 24 hours or more to react. It is essential to modify your activity to remain pain-free during and after 24 to 48 hours.
For more specific information, please discuss your Achilles tendinopathy with your physiotherapist.
How Long Does it take for Achilles Tendinopathy to Heal?
If you identify your Achilles tendon injury in the early stages, load management and reduction will allow the tendon time to adapt and quickly recover. The reactive stage can be relatively short. Pain may settle in 5 to 10 days, but the tendon will still be sensitive to high loads, and training needs gradual progression to prevent relapse. It mustn’t progress into late-stage two or stage 3 tendinopathy. These tendinopathies require additional time and rehabilitation.
A likely return to sport is in the order of 12 weeks. However, everyone is very different!
There is no specific time frame for when to progress from each stage to the next. Many factors will determine your Achilles tendonitis rehabilitation status during your physiotherapist’s clinical assessment and reviews. You’ll find that in most cases, your physiotherapist will seamlessly progress between the rehabilitation phases as your clinical assessment and function improves.
It is also important to note that each progression requires carefully monitored as attempting to progress too soon to the next level can lead to re-injury and frustration. The severity of your tendon injury, your compliance with treatment, and the workload you need to return will ultimately determine how long your injury takes to rehabilitate successfully.
When Will Your Achilles Tendinopathy Heal?
Some practitioners suggest that the tendinopathy phase can sum up the prognosis with guided treatment:
- Phase I: days
- Phase II: weeks
- Phase III: months
- Phase IV: years
Achilles Tendinopathy – What Exercises to Avoid!
Avoid exercises that provoke your pain, such as running up hills or stairs, sprinting, jumping, hopping and deep squats until advised otherwise by your physiotherapist.
Massage, Foam Rollers & Stretches
Massage or foam rollers can release your calves, shins, quadriceps, ITB, and hamstrings, which may assist in cases of Achilles tendinopathy. You can perform these in positions that avoid ankle hyperdorsiflexion. Ask your physiotherapist for specific advice.
Eccentric exercises were, for many years, the “go-to” exercises for tendinopathy rehabilitation. While important, premature or overloaded eccentric exercises can delay your recovery. Your physiotherapist will guide you when appropriate. They aim to commence strengthening that does not aggravate your Achilles tendinopathy. They may start you with isometrics that avoid tendon compression and progress from there towards a basic and then advance eccentric exercise program.
Adjacent Joints & Lower Limb Biomechanics
Researchers have identified several lower limb biomechanical issues that may predispose you to Achilles tendinopathy. Your physiotherapist will individually assess you. Tests may include your ankle dorsiflexion, single-leg squat alignment and control, gluteal control, hip/knee bend ratio and running and landing technique. They’ll advise you if you require some treatment to address any deficiencies.
Novel therapies such as the injection of sclerosing agents, platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), and autologous blood into diseased tendons have shown potentially promising results. However, more clinical trials are needed, so it is still considered experimental at this time. Your physiotherapist is happy to discuss these options with you when they find them an appropriate treatment option.
Remember, all tendinopathies are different. Please seek the advice of your Achilles tendinopathy physiotherapist. They will assist you in determining the best rehabilitation appropriate to your tendinopathy.
Can Your Achilles Tendon Rupture?
The worst-case scenario is a total rupture of your Achilles tendon, which occurs when tendon cell death occurs, and the tendon strength is insufficient. Treatment, in this case, may require surgery, plaster or a wedged walking boot for at least six weeks. Most of these injuries take six months or more to rehabilitate adequately, so avoiding Achilles tendon rupture remains the best option.
The best advice is to seek early advice from your physiotherapist to do all you can to avoid this nasty rupture happening in the first place.
More info: Achilles tendon rupture.
Common Heel Pain & Injury Conditions
Traumatic Ankle Ligament Injuries
- Achilles Tendon Rupture
- Achilles Tendinopathy
- FHL Tendinopathy
- Peroneal Tendinopathy
- Tibialis Posterior Tendinopathy
- Ankle Fracture (Broken Ankle)
- Stress Fracture
- Stress Fracture Feet
- Severs Disease
- Heel Spur
- Shin Splints
Soft Tissue Inflammation
FAQs about Achilles Tendinopathy
Sports Injury Management
You probably already know that a sports injury can affect not only your performance but also your lifestyle. The latest research continues to change sports injury management considerably. Our challenge is to keep up to date with the latest research and put them to work for you.
How we treated you last year could vary significantly to how we treat you this year. The good news is that you can benefit considerably from our knowledge.
What Should You Do When You Suffer a Sports Injury?
Rest from painful exercise or a movement is essential in the early injury stage. "No pain. No gain." does not apply in most cases. The rule of thumb is - don't do anything that reproduces your pain for the initial two or three days. After that, you need to get it moving, or other problems will develop.
Ice or Heat?
We usually recommend avoiding heat (and heat rubs) in the first 48 hours of injury. The heat encourages bleeding, which could be detrimental if used too early. In traumatic injuries, such as ligament sprains, muscle tears or bruising, ice should help reduce your pain and swelling.
Once the "heat" has come out of your injury, you can use heat packs. We recommend 20-minute applications a few times a day to increase the blood flow and hasten your healing rate. The heat will also help your muscles relax and ease your pain. If you're not sure what to do, please call us to discuss your situation specifically.
Should You Use a Compressive Bandage?
Yes. A compressive bandage will help to control swelling and bleeding in the first few days. In most cases, the compressive dressing will also help support the injury as you lay down the new scar tissue. This early healing should help to reduce your pain. Some injuries will benefit from more rigid support such as a brace or strapping tape. Please ask us if you are uncertain about what to do next.
Gravity will encourage swelling to settle at the lowest point. Elevation of an injury in the first few days is beneficial, especially for ankle or hand injuries. Think where your damage is and where your heart is. Try to rest your injury above your heart.
What Medication Should You Use?
Your Doctor or Pharmacist may recommend pain killers or an anti-inflammatory drug. It is best to seek their professional advice as certain medications can interfere with other health conditions, especially asthmatics.
When Should You Commence Physio?
In most cases, "the early bird gets the worm". Researchers have found that the intervention of physiotherapy treatment within a few days has many benefits. These include:
- Relieving your pain quicker via joint mobility techniques, massage and electrotherapy
- Improving your scar tissue using techniques to guide the direction it forms
- Getting you back to sport or work quicker through faster healing rates
- Loosening or strengthening of your injured region with individually prescribed exercises
- Improving your performance when you return to sport - we'll detect and help you correct any biomechanical faults that may affect your technique or predispose you to injury.
What If You Do Nothing?
Research tells us that injuries left untreated take longer to heal and have lingering pain. They are also more likely to recur and leave you with either joint stiffness or muscle weakness. It's important to remember that symptoms lasting longer than three months become habitual and are much harder to solve. The sooner you get on top of your symptoms, the better your outcome.
What About Arthritis?
Previously injured joints can prematurely become arthritic through neglect. Generally, there are four main reasons why you develop arthritis:
- An inappropriately treated previous injury (e.g. old joint or ligament sprains)
- Poor joint positioning (biomechanical faults)
- Stiff joints (lack of movement diminishes joint nutrition)
- Loose joints (excessive sloppiness causes joint damage through poor control)
What About Your Return to Sport?
Your physiotherapist will guide you safely back to the level of sport at which you wish to participate. If you need guidance, ask us.
What If You Need Surgery or X-rays?
Not only will your physio diagnose your sports injury and give you the "peace of mind" associated, but they'll also refer you elsewhere if that's what's best for you. Think about it. You could be suffering needlessly from a sports injury. Please use our advice to guide you out of pain quicker. And for a lot longer.
If you have any questions regarding your sports injury (or any other condition), please contact your physiotherapist to discuss. You'll find our friendly staff happy to point you in the right direction.
What is Physiotherapy Treatment?
Physiotherapists help people affected by illness, injury or disability through exercise, manual joint therapy, soft tissue techniques education and advice. Physiotherapists maintain physical health, allow patients to manage pain and prevent disease for people of all ages. Physiotherapists help encourage pain-relief, injury recovery, enabling people to stay playing a sport, working or performing daily living activities while assisting them to remain functionally independent.
There is a multitude of different physiotherapy treatment approaches.
Acute & Sub-Acute Injury Management
Hands-On Physiotherapy Techniques
Your physiotherapist's training includes hands-on physiotherapy techniques such as:
- Joint Mobilisation (gentle joint gliding techniques)
- Joint Manipulation
- Physiotherapy Instrument Mobilisation (PIM)
- Minimal Energy Techniques (METs)
- Soft Tissue Techniques
Your physiotherapist has skilled training. Physiotherapy techniques have expanded over the past few decades. They have researched, upskilled and educated themselves in a spectrum of allied health skills. These skills include techniques shared with other healthcare practitioners. Professions include exercise physiologists, remedial massage therapists, osteopaths, acupuncturists, kinesiologists, chiropractors and occupational therapists, to name a few.
Your physiotherapist is a highly skilled professional who utilises strapping and taping techniques to prevent and assist injuries or pain relief and function.
Alternatively, your physiotherapist may recommend a supportive brace.
Acupuncture and Dry Needling
Many physiotherapists have acquired additional training in acupuncture and dry needling to assist pain relief and muscle function.
Physiotherapists have been trained in the use of exercise therapy to strengthen your muscles and improve your function. Physiotherapy exercises use evidence-based protocols where possible as an effective way that you can solve or prevent pain and injury. Your physiotherapist is highly-skilled in the prescription of the "best exercises" for you and the most appropriate "exercise dose" for you, depending on your rehabilitation status. Your physiotherapist will incorporate essential components of pilates, yoga and exercise physiology to provide you with the best result. They may even use Real-Time Ultrasound Physiotherapy so that you can watch your muscles contract on a screen as you correctly retrain them.
- Muscle Stretching
- Core Exercises
- Strengthening Exercises
- Balance Exercises
- Proprioception Exercises
- Real-Time Ultrasound Physiotherapy
- Swiss Ball Exercises
Biomechanical assessment, observation and diagnostic skills are paramount to the best treatment. Your physiotherapist is a highly skilled health professional. They possess superb diagnostic skills to detect and ultimately avoid musculoskeletal and sports injuries. Poor technique or posture is one of the most common sources of a repeat injury.
Aquatic water exercises are an effective method to provide low bodyweight exercises.
Sports physio requires an extra level of knowledge and physiotherapy to assist injury recovery, prevent injury and improve performance. For the best advice, consult a Sports Physiotherapist.
Women's Health Physiotherapy is a particular interest group of therapies.
Not only can your physiotherapist assist you in sport, but they can also help you at work. Ergonomics looks at the best postures and workstation set up for your body at work or home. Whether it be lifting technique improvement, education programs or workstation setups, your physiotherapist can help you.
Plus Much More
Your physiotherapist is a highly skilled body mechanic. A physiotherapist has particular interests in certain injuries or specific conditions. For advice regarding your problem, please contact your PhysioWorks team.
Post-Run Recovery TipsAre you planning on running a marathon, half marathon, participating in a charity run or just running for fun? How about dreading the post-exercise soreness and fatigue? When you push your body to perform an intense exercise or exercise it may be unaccustomed to, it is beneficial to know what to do to assist recovery after the event. Here are six tips to assist you in recovering after a running event.
1. Post-Run NutritionAfter exercise, it is paramount you replenish the energy stores (glycogen/carbohydrates, electrolytes and protein) and fluid stores you lost during activity. This nutrition will help the body recover from intense exercise and assist your immune system damaged by the practice.
CarbohydratesWhen glycogen synthesis is highest within the first-hour post-exercise, consume a carbohydrate-rich snack/meal that provides 1-1.2g of carbohydrate per 1kg of body weight.
ProteinIntense exercise causes a breakdown in muscle tissue. Protein helps restore tissue and assist muscle adaptation. Essential amino acids from high-quality protein-rich foods in the hour post-exercise promote protein rebuilding. Commonly 10-20g of protein in the first-hour post-exercise is recommended.
RehydrationIt is essential to replace the fluid lost during exercise. Electrolytes, particularly sodium, lost through sweat are required. Sodium helps to increase your fluid balance post-exercise by reducing urine loss. To check, please weigh yourself before and after your race. A guideline to fluid replacement is 1L for every 1kg lost during the event. More info: Sports Dietitian
2. Cool Down ExerciseLow-intensity exercise can help remove lactic acid build-up and promote blood flow to relieve tight and sore muscles. This exercise can be performed as a light jog or walk after your event or the day following. This cool down exercise can be followed by a brief 5 to 15-min period of stretching to assist with tight muscles. More info:
3. Soft Tissue RecoveryWays to assist soft tissue recovery at home include foam rolling and wearing compression garments. Foam rolling on your back, ITB, hamstrings, quads and calves dramatically helps your soft tissue recovery. Spend 2x 1-minute intervals in each area. You may wear compression garments for 24-hrs post-exercise. Both techniques can assist in reducing post-exercise muscle soreness and may enhance recovery of muscle performance. More info: Foam Rollers
4. Recovery MassageA post-run recovery massage can reduce excessive post-exercise muscle tone and increase muscle range of motion. Massage also improves circulation and nutrition to damaged tissue, deactivate symptomatic trigger point, reduced post-exercise soreness and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Soft tissue therapy has also been said to aid in psychological recovery alongside music, warm baths and showers to enhance muscle relaxation and allow healing. More info: Recovery Massage
5. IceThere is often debate whether ice baths (cold water immersion) is beneficial after exercise. In regards to running, ice helps to decrease inflammation resulting from intense activity. Ice can help to reduce post-activity muscle soreness. The day after intense activity, you can use heat to help relax tight muscles. Heat also promotes blood flow to an area, promoting the recovery of lactic acid build-up. More info: Ice therapy
6. SleepA good night’s sleep consisting of around 8 hours is essential for muscle recovery, among other biological functions. As mentioned above, compression garments can be worn to bed to further assist with healing. You can achieve a good night’s sleep by ensuring the room is cool, dark and quiet and free of electronic distractions. Ideally, one should have a well-developed sleep routine that consists of the strategies mentioned earlier and avoids caffeine and excessive fluid intake before bed.
- tendon insertion (where the tendon attaches to the bone)
- mid-tendon (non-insertional tendinopathy)
- musculotendinous junction (where the tendon attaches to the muscle)
What is a Tendon Injury?Tendons are the tough fibres that connect muscle to bone. Most tendon injuries occur near joints, such as the shoulder, elbow, knee, and ankle. A tendon injury may seem to occur suddenly, but usually, it is the result of repetitive tendon overloading. As mentioned earlier, health care professionals may use different terms to describe a tendon injury. You may hear: Tendinitis (or Tendonitis): This means "inflammation of the tendon". Mild inflammation is actually a normal tendon healing response to exercise or activity loading, but it can become excessive, where the rate of injury exceeds your healing capacity.
Tendinopathy PhasesThe inability of your tendon to adapt to the load quickly enough causes the tendon to progress through four phases of tendon injury. While it is healthy for normal tissue adaptation during phase one, further progression can lead to tendon cell death and subsequent tendon rupture.
1. Reactive Tendinopathy
- Normal tissue adaptation phase
- Prognosis: Excellent.
- Normal Recovery!
2. Tendon Dysrepair
- Injury rate > Repair rate
- Prognosis: Good.
- The tendon tissue is attempting to heal.
- It is vital that you prevent deterioration and progression to permanent cell death (phase 3).
3. Degenerative Tendinopathy
- Cell death occurs
- Prognosis: Poor!
- Tendon cells are dying!
4. Tendon Tear or Rupture
- Catastrophic tissue breakdown
- Loss of function.
- Prognosis: very poor.
- Surgery is often the only option.
What is Your Tendinopathy Phase?It is very important to have your tendinopathy professionally assessed to identify it’s current injury phase. Identifying your tendinopathy phase is also vital to direct your most effective treatment since certain treatment modalities or exercises should only be applied or undertaken in specific tendon healing phases.
Systemic Risk FactorsThe evidence is growing that it is more than just the tendon and overload that causes tendinopathy. Diabetics, post-menopausal women and men with high central adiposity (body fat) seem to be predisposed to tendinopathies and will need to carefully watch their training loads.
What are the Symptoms of Tendinopathy?Tendinopathy usually causes pain, stiffness, and loss of strength in the affected area.
- The pain may get worse when you use the tendon.
- You may have more pain and stiffness during the night or when you get up in the morning.
- The area may be tender, red, warm, or swollen if there is inflammation.
- You may notice a crunchy sound or feeling when you use the tendon.
How is a Tendon Injury Diagnosed?To diagnose a tendon injury, your physiotherapist or doctor will ask questions about your past health, your symptoms and recent exercise regime. They'll undertake a thorough physical examination to confirm the diagnosis. They will then discuss your condition and devise an individualised treatment plan. They may refer you for specific diagnostic tests, such as an ultrasound scan or MRI.
Tendinopathy TreatmentTendinopathies can normally be quickly and effectively rehabilitated. However, there is a percentage of tendinopathies that can take months to treat effectively. As mentioned earlier in this article, it is important to know what phase your tendinopathy currently is. You physiotherapist can assist not only your diagnosis but also guide your treatment to fast-track your recovery. Before you seek the advice of your physiotherapist or doctor, you can start treating an acute tendon injury at home. To achieve the best results, start these steps right away:
- Rest the painful area, and avoid any activity that makes the pain worse.
- Apply ice or cold packs for 20 minutes at a time, as often as 2 times an hour, for the first 72 hours. Keep using ice as long as it helps.
- Do gentle range-of-motion exercises and stretching to prevent stiffness.
When to Return to SportEvery tendinopathy is different, so please be guided by your physiotherapist assessment. It may take weeks or months for some tendon injury to heal and safely cope with a return to sporting loads. Be patient, and stick with the treatment exercises and load doses prescribed by your physiotherapist. If you start using the injured tendon too soon, it can lead to more damage, and set you back weeks!
Tendinopathy PreventionTo minimise reinjuring your tendon, you may require some long-term changes to your exercise activities. These should be discussed with your physiotherapist. Some factors that could influence your tendinopathy risk include:
- Altering your sport/activities or your technique
- Regular prevention exercises.
- Closely monitoring and record your exercise loads. Discuss your loading with your physiotherapist and coach. They will have some excellent tips.
- Always take time to warm up before and cool down / stretch after you exercise.
Tendinopathy PrognosisWhile most acute tendinopathies can resolve quickly, persisting tendon injuries may take many months to resolve. Long-term or repeat tendinopathies usually have multifactorial causes that will require a thorough assessment and individualised rehabilitation plan. Researchers have found that tendon injuries do respond differently to muscle injuries and can take months to solve or potentially render you vulnerable to tendon ruptures, which can require surgery. For specific advice regarding your tendinopathy, please seek the advice of your trusted healthcare professional with a special interest in tendinopathies.
What is Barefoot Running?Barefoot running is a term that means either running either without shoes or with minimalist shoes. Barefoot running has gained popularity over the last few years as a way to return to pure running and has been proclaimed to help reduce the rate of running injuries. But is this accurate? To gain a more scientific basis on whether barefoot running is advantageous or not for you, let’s look at what researchers have discovered.
Who is Suited to Barefoot Running?When you run without shoes, you tend to land on the front part of our foot. This is called a forefoot strike. Landing through the centre of your foot is called a midfoot strike. If you were to land barefoot on your heel, it's called a rearfoot strike, the ground-shock would be excessive, and you would develop heel pain or injury, plus some other injuries further up your leg. That's why most barefoot runners tend to have a forefoot or midfoot strike. When you put on a traditional jogger with rearfoot cushioning, this cushioning allows you to land on your heel without damage. This is why lot of shoe runners become rearfoot strikers.
Ground Reaction ForcesThe graphs below chart what is called ground reaction forces. The chart to the left is a rearfoot strike technique, and the right chart demonstrates a forefoot strike.
What does this Mean?Generally, the higher the force, the greater the risk of injury. When you look closer, however, you can see that the ground reaction forces are actually higher in the forefoot strike chart. Surely this would mean that you would get more injuries running with a forefoot strike technique. Not exactly. As well as considering the ground reaction force, you also need to look at the vertical loading rate.
Vertical Loading RateVertical loading rate (see the chart below) is a measure of how quickly the ground reaction forces increase. The steeper the curve, the greater the risk of injury. Running with a rearfoot strike produces a steeper curve, and makes some leg injuries more likely, but once again not all.
Running Shoes vs Barefoot RunningDoes this mean you should toss away all of your running shoes? Maybe hold on them just a little longer. The evidence is not clear yet as to whether a forefoot/midfoot strike does actually reduce your injury rate. What appears to occur is the barefoot running reduces loads in one area only to increase loads in another. And, since you are probably running on firm or rough surfaces such as footpaths, roads or gravel, you'll need some form of cushioning and protection for your feet. Don't you hate landing on those little stones!
What Should You Do?If you are running without injuries at present you would probably be silly to change. Changing footwear and technique may simply add another increase in loading and create new injuries elsewhere. Certainly, at PhysioWorks, we are seeing more forefoot injuries in barefoot runners, which does make sense given the load charts. Plus, most of these injuries occur within a few weeks of changing your running style. However, if you have been suffering injuries from running, barefoot may be a consideration for you. Changes to your running technique such as reducing your stride length or your shoe style could help you. You may also have some muscle control issues in another part of your body that could be altering the way you adapt your running style. So, before you toss your running shoes, it may be in your interest to consult with a running physiotherapist, a sports podiatrist or a running coach who can analyse your running style, assess your body for weakness or tightness, check your leg and foot biomechanics or simply help you to retrain your running technique or some slightly weak muscles. Most problems that cause running injuries are simpler to fix than you may think.
What is the PhysioWorks Difference?You'll be impressed with the experienced physiotherapists, massage therapists and reception staff who represent PhysioWorks. To ensure that we remain highly qualified, we are committed to participating in continuing education to provide optimal care. If you've been searching for health practitioners with a serious interest in your rehabilitation or injury prevention program, our staff have either participated or are still participating in competitive sports at a representative level. We also currently provide physiotherapy and massage services for numerous sports clubs. Our experience helps us understand what you need to do to safely and quickly return to youryouryour sporting field, home duties, or employment.
How You'll Benefit from the PhysioWorks Difference?At PhysioWorks physiotherapy and massage clinics, we strive to offer our clients quick, effective and long-lasting results by providing high-quality treatment. We aim to get you better quicker in a friendly and caring environment conducive to successful healing. With many years of clinical experience, our friendly service and quality treatment is a benchmark not only in Brisbane but Australia-wide.
What are Some of the BIG Differences?Our therapists pride themselves on keeping up to date with the latest research and treatment skills to ensure that they provide you with the most advantageous treatment methods. They are continually updating their knowledge via seminars, conferences, workshops, scientific journals etc. Not only will you receive a detailed consultation, but we offer long-term solutions, not just quick fixes that in reality, only last for a short time. We attempt to treat the cause, not just the symptoms. PhysioWorks clinics are modern thinking. Not only in their appearance but in the equipment we use and in our therapists' knowledge. Our staff care about you! We are always willing to go that 'extra mile' to guarantee that we cater to our clients' unique needs. All in all, we feel that your chances of the correct diagnosis, the most effective treatment and the best outcomes are all the better at PhysioWorks.
What is Therapeutic Ultrasound?Therapeutic ultrasound is an electrotherapy modality which has been used by physiotherapists since the 1940s. Via an ultrasound probe through a transmission coupling gel in direct contact with your skin, ultrasound waves are applied. Therapeutic ultrasound may increase:
- healing rates
- tissue heating
- local blood flow
- tissue relaxation
- scar tissue breakdown.
How Could Ultrasound Help?Ultrasound increases local blood flow. This increase may help to reduce local swelling and promote soft tissue healing rates. A higher power density may soften scar tissue.
Specific Ultrasound UsesMastitis or blocked milk ducts successfully respond to therapeutic ultrasound. The effect is quite dramatic, with improvement within 24 to 72 hours. The most common conditions treated with ultrasound include soft tissue injuries such as muscle, ligament injuries or some tendinopathies. Phonophoresis uses ultrasound in a non-invasive way of administering medications to tissues below the skin. This method may assist patients who are uncomfortable with injections. With phonophoresis, the ultrasonic energy forces the drug through the skin.
What is an Ultrasound Dose?A typical ultrasound treatment will take from 3-10 minutes. Where scar tissue breakdown is the goal, this treatment time could be much longer. During the procedure, the head of the ultrasound probe is in constant motion. If kept in continuous motion, the patient should feel no discomfort at all. Some conditions treated with ultrasound include soft tissues injuries such as muscles or ligament injuries, tendinopathy, non-acute joint swelling and muscle spasm.
How Does an Ultrasound Work?A piezoelectric effect, caused by the vibration of crystals within the ultrasound head of the probe creates the sound waves. The ultrasound waves generated then pass through the skin cause a vibration of the local soft tissues. This repeated cavitation can cause a deep heating locally though usually no sensation of heat will be felt by the patient. In situations where a heating effect is not desirable, an athermal application occurs. Athermal doses are typical during acute fresh injury and the associated acute inflammation.
When Should Ultrasound be Avoided?Contraindications of ultrasound include:
- local malignancy,
- over metal implants,
- local acute infection,
- vascular abnormalities,
- active epiphyseal regions (growth plates) in children,
- over the spinal cord in the area of a laminectomy,
- over the eyes, skull, or testes
- and, directly on the abdomen of pregnant women. Treatment ultrasound differs from diagnostic ultrasound!
7 Ways to Prevent a Future Leg Injury?You may reduce the chance of leg injury by following these seven simple tips:
- Warm-up before you exercise.
- Warm down when you finish. Warm down usually includes some simple stretching exercises and plyometric drills.
- Wear well-fitting shoes, boots or braces that provide excellent joint support.
- Tape or brace your ankles/knees in high-risk sports such as football, basketball, volleyball and netball.
- Avoid activities on slippery, wet or uneven surfaces, or in areas with poor lighting.
- Strengthen your leg muscles and regularly use a wobble disc or balance board
- Maintain general functional fitness.
Common Youth Leg Injuries
Why are Children's Injuries Different to Adults?Adolescent injuries differ from adult injuries, mainly because the bones are still growing. The growth plates (physis) are cartilaginous (strong connective tissue) areas of the bones from which the bones elongate or enlarge. Repetitive stress or sudden large forces can cause injury to these areas.
Common Adolescent Leg InjuriesIn the adolescent leg, common injuries include:
Osgood-Schlatter's DiseasePain at the bump just below the knee cap (tibia tubercle). Overuse injuries commonly occur here. The tibia tubercle is the anchor point of your mighty quadriceps (thigh) muscles. It is because of excessive participation in running and jumping sports that the tendon pulls bone off and forms a painful lump that will remain forever. This type of injury responds to reduced activity and physiotherapy. More info: Osgood Schlatter's Disease
Sinding-Larsen-Johansson DiseasePain at the lower pole of the knee cap (patella). Overstraining causes Sinding-Larsen-Johansson disease. It is because of excessive participation in running and jumping sports that the tendon pulls bone off the knee cap. This type of injury responds to reduced activity and physiotherapy. More info: Sinding Larsen Johansson Syndrome
Anterior Knee PainAnterior knee pain or patellofemoral syndrome frequently gets passed off as growing pains. Cause of this pain includes overuse, muscle imbalance, poor flexibility, poor alignment, or more commonly, a combination of these. Anterior knee pain is one of the most challenging adolescent knee injuries to sort out and treat. Accurate diagnosis and treatment with the assistance of a physiotherapist with a particular interest in this problem usually resolves the condition quickly. More info: Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
Knee LigamentsThe cartilage between the leg bones have a better blood supply and are more elastic in adolescents than in adults. As adolescents near the end of bone growth, their injuries become more adult-like, hence more meniscal and ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injuries are likely. MCL (medial collateral ligament) injuries result from a lateral blow to the knee. Pain felt on the inner side (medially) of the knee. MCL injuries respond well to protective bracing and conservative treatment. More info: Knee Ligament Injuries
ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injuriesThis traumatic knee injury is significant. Non-contact injuries of the ACL are becoming more common than contact injuries of the ACL. Adolescent females are at high risk. Combination injuries with MCL or menisci are common. Surgical reconstruction is needed if the adolescent wishes to continue participating in "stop-and-start" sports. More info: ACL Injury
Meniscal injuriesYour meniscus is crescent-shaped cartilage between the thigh bone (femur) and lower leg bone (tibia). Meniscal injuries usually result from twisting. Swelling, catching, and locking of the knee are common. If physiotherapy treatment does not resolve these types of damages within six weeks, they may require arthroscopic surgery. More info: Meniscus Tear, Discoid Meniscus
Sever's DiseaseHeel pain is commonplace in young adolescents due to the stresses of their Achilles tendon pulling upon its bony insertion point on the heel (calcaneum). It is a common overuse injury as a result of excessive volume of training and competition, particularly when loads are increased dramatically in a short period. Diminished flexibility and muscle-tendon strength mismatching may predispose you. Physiotherapy, reduced activity, taping and orthotics are some of the best ways to manage this debilitating condition for the active young athlete. More info: Sever's Disease
Ankle SprainAn ankle sprain is probably the most common injury seen in sports. Ankles sprains involve stretching of the ligaments and usually occur when the foot twists inward. Treatment includes active rest, ice, compression and physiotherapy rehabilitation. An ankle sprain usually improves in 2-6 weeks with the correct treatment. Your ankle physiotherapist should check even simple ankle sprains. A residually stiff ankle post-sprain can predispose you to several other lower limb issues More info: Sprained Ankle
Patellar InstabilityPatellar (kneecap) instability can range from partial dislocation (subluxation) to dislocation with a fracture. Partial dislocation treatment is conservative. Dislocation with or without fracture is a much more severe injury and usually will require surgery. More info: Patella Dislocation
Osteochondritis DissecansThe separation of a piece of bone from its bed in the knee joint is Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD). This injury is usually due to one major macro event with repetitive macro trauma that prevents complete healing. This injury is potentially severe. Treatment varies from rest to surgery. An Orthopaedic Surgeon's opinion is vital. More info: Juvenile Osteochondritis Dissecans (JOCD)
Growth Plate FracturesA fracture through the growth plate can be a severe injury that can stop the bone from growing correctly. These fractures should be treated by an Orthopaedic Surgeon, as some will require surgery.
Image source: https://radiologyassistant.nl/pediatrics/hip/hip-pathology-in-childrenAn avulsion fracture occurs when a small segment of bone attached to a tendon or ligament gets pulled away from the main bone. The hip, elbow and ankle are the most common locations for lower limb avulsion fractures in the young sportsperson. Treatment of an avulsion fracture typically includes active rest, ice and protecting the affected area. This period of active rest is followed by controlled exercises that help restore range of motion, improve muscle strength and promote bone healing. Your physiotherapist should supervise your post-avulsion exercises. Most avulsion fractures heal very well. You may need to spend a few weeks on crutches if you have an avulsion fracture around your hip. An avulsion fracture to your foot or ankle may require a cast or walking boot. In rare cases, an excessive gap between the avulsed bone fragment and main bone may not rejoin naturally. Surgery may be necessary to reunite them. In children, avulsion fractures that involve the growth plates also might require surgery. All avulsion fractures should be reviewed and managed by your trusted physiotherapist or an Orthopaedic Surgeon. For more information regarding your youth sports injury, please consult your physiotherapist or doctor.
Common Youth Leg Injuries
Pelvis & Hip
- Osgood Schlatter's Disease
- Sinding Larsen Johannson Disease
- Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
- Patella Dislocation
- Meniscus Tear
- Discoid Meniscus
- Juvenile Osteochondritis Dissecans