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  1. #1

    Achilles Tendonitis and Strains

    I have found repeatedly in the clinic over the past 10 years that perhaps 90% of my client with Achilles issues are related in part to soleus eccentric function. Whilst there is considerable work done that address hip joint stability, position and rotation, as well as foot factors, I still find the biggest problem is soleus.

    Luckily training this with both a slightly flexed and extended knee gives very quick and long-lasting results. I am however totally at a loss as to why so many physios and even worse gym instructors still advocate straight knee calf raises for strengthening this problem. It seems to feed on the existing issues and only makes the long term prognosis inevitably worse.

    Does anyone else have some thoughts on this?

    regards :rolleyes

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  2. #2
    if the Achilles pain has persisted longer than about a month it should be identified as a tendinopathy, i.e. it is not an "itis" therefore NSAIDs are of limited value (see work by Karim Khan MD and JIll Cook Phd PT). The tendinopathy responds to a prgramme of eccentric exercise both For Gastroc and Soleus eg unilateral heel drops with the knee bent and straight. The other common factor I find is a weak Tib Post and over active FHL. Address the muscle imbalance issues treat the trigger points (I use IMS with good success) and use a heel lift temporarily and in most cases the symptoms will resolve withina few weeks.

  3. #3
    IMS, FHL and ...

    It would be nice if you guys could write a bit longer names, it takes long to figure out these abbreviations for those of us that are not very familiar with the english language.

    (Another thing is that english-speakers nomally uses english words, as the rest of the world uses latin..)

    Best Regards,
    Øystein, Norway.

  4. #4
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    Fair comment Oystein - at least we native English speakers can try the full word version before shortening it. FHL is flexor hallicus longus. You will also notice that this post has had a lot of views. It also had about 30 great responses and some lengthy discussion. Unfortunately during the hacker attack earlier in the year the replies were all lost, but the interest in terms of views was preserved. Let's hope that is eventually gets the recognition of discussion it deserves. Nice to have you as a member from Norway

  5. #5
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    Achilles tendonitis is seen in jumpers and correlates to risk factors of increased intensity, participation in a new activity, or new or unsuitable footwear. Injury is noted more commonly in runners, gymnasts, cyclists, and volleyball players; hyperpronation may contribute. In cyclists, low saddle height, resulting in extra dorsiflexion of the ankle with pedaling, may be a causative factor.

    Achilles tendon injuries may be classified as follows:


    Localized/burning pain during or following activity occurs.

    As the disease progresses, onset of pain may occur earlier during activity, with decreased activity level, or even at rest.

    In this condition, the paratenon itself is inflamed thickened and typically adherent to the underlying unaffected tendon. Under the microscope, there is capillary proliferation and infiltration of inflammatory cells within the paratenon.


    Usually, this injury is an asymptomatic, noninflammatory, degenerative disease process (mucoid degeneration).

    The patient may complain of a sensation of fullness or nodule in the back of the leg.

    With tendinosis, there are thickened and yellowish areas of mucoid degeneration within the tendon itself. The tendon loses its normal coloration and striation patterns.

    Hypocellularity, collagen disorganization, lack of inflammatory reaction, scattered vascular ingrowth, and intermittent areas of calcification or necrosis are hallmarks of this disease process.

    Pathology is usually found within the watershed area of the tendon.

    Peritenonitis with tendinosis

    Activity-related pain and diffuse swelling of the tendon sheath with nodularity is present.

    Histologically and macroscopically, this entity combines findings found in both tendinosis and peritenonitis.


    Extrinsic causes of Achilles tendonitis include the following:
    Increased intensity of activity
    Increased duration of training
    Hill climbing
    Poor conditioning
    Improper shoes
    Improper training surfaces
    Improper stretching exercises

    Intrinsic causes may include the following:

    Tight Achilles tendon
    Varus heel
    Varus forefoot
    Cavus foot
    Tibia vara
    Medical diseases that may affect tendon tissue (eg, diabetes mellitus) and diseases requiring corticosteroid treatment (eg, lupus, asthma, transplants)


    Physical therapy for patients with Achilles tendonitis consists of several stages. The initial goal of physical therapy is to control the inflammation.

    In the first and part of the second phase, pain is used to guide the intensity of exercise. Active ankle dorsiflexion with gentle calf stretching is performed.

    In the intermediate phase, strengthening replaces active ROM, and neuromuscular control programs are initiated.

    In the third phase of rehabilitation, progressive stress is applied under good control to allow the collagen to form appropriately. As pain resolves, perform aggressive stretching and active resisted motion.

    Cryotherapy is useful in all of these stages. Physical modalities, such as ultrasound and electrical stimulation, also are useful to decrease pain and inflammation.

    Acute Phase:

    Physical Therapy:


    Recommend rest and limitation of activities determined by the severity and duration of pain. Ice compresses can be used for relief of acute pain and inflammation following activities. Recommend nonsteroidal Wikipedia reference-linkanti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce pain and inflammation. Suggest a heel lift of 1-2 cm on a temporary basis for comfort. Heel lifts on a prolonged basis may result in tendon shortening.

    Instruct the patient in stretching, training modification/re-evaluation, and muscle strengthening. Stretching exercises are believed to be the key modality in treatment as they provide better flexibility to the ankle. Stretching of the posterior gastroc-soleus complex should always be slow and deliberate. Each stretch should last for 20-30 seconds, with multiple repetitions in a set.

    Three possible methods of stretching the gastroc-soleus complex include 1) incline board, 2) wall leans, and 3) "foot on chair" stretching. An incline board is a fabricated ramp of 15-18° that allows the patient to gradually stretch the heel cord complex. A much simpler method is to have the patient stand and face a wall, while leaning with his knees extended and his heels planted on the ground. The "foot on chair" method requires the athlete to place his foot flat on a chair, and gradually bring his knee forward as far as possible without losing heel contact with the chair. Use orthotics to treat overpronation or heel cups to provide extra support and cushion to the tendon. Return to activities is gradual.


    Tendinosis alone usually is asymptomatic and is noticeable only with palpation of a nodule or fullness along the tendon. Tendinosis becomes symptomatic when coexistent peritenonitis is present and the patient complains of activity-related pain or swelling. Treatment is first conservative with methods similar to simple peritenonitis. Six to eight weeks of activity modification, orthotics (walking boot with a heel lift), anti-inflammatory analgesics, and physical therapy should be prescribed prior to any operative treatment or orthopedic referral.

    Certain modalities have been used in physical therapy programs. Therapeutic ultrasound provides silent mechanical vibrations of high frequency that penetrate superficial tissue in order to generate deep heat. Ultrasound has been shown in some studies to increase the rate of collagen synthesis and the breaking strength of the tendon. Ultrasound's effectiveness as an anti-inflammatory technique remains unproven. Both phonophoresis and iontophoresis deliver topically applied anti-inflammatory medications transdermally with the aid of mechanical ultrasound energy or an electrical field gradient, respectively. Typically, because the anti-inflammatory substance is a steroid (known to weaken tendinous tissue), I do not recommend its use.

    Maintenance Phase:

    Physical Therapy: Achilles tendonitis is best prevented, treated, and maintained by preserving good ROM in the heel cord complex. Such motion can be gained with the use of an incline board, wall leans, or the "foot on chair" stretching exercises as described. Moist heat or compresses prior to workouts and at night are beneficial. Cold modalities should be used following strenuous activities to provide pain relief and anti-inflammatory effects.

  6. #6
    I am interested in any medical information regarding the formation of calcification in my achillles tendon and the associated treatment. There is plenty of descriptions but few solutions on various web sites.

    I have a large calcaneous bone spur located under my tendon on the back of my heal. Due to the same condition on my other foot I had a rupture of the associated tendon. To prevent another rupture the spur will be removed surgically on the other foot but has calcification in the tendon. My surgeon is researching what the best option will be but I am seeking any futher knowledge or past experience with similar circumstances. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you

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