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Feet and foot articles at A great Massage

Feet and foot articles at A great Massage
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Achilles Tendonitis
by Michael L. Hauser, Foot Specialist
Denver, Colorado

(This article is part of the Foot Health Series at A Great Massage.  See below for more articles about feet and foot health.)

Tendonitis is, basically, inflammation of a tendon. Probably the most common tendonitis seen in sports medicine is Achilles Tendonitis. The achillies tendon connects the calf muscle to the heel and allows you to raise up the ball of your foot.

Achilles tendonitis can be caused by a direct blow to the tendon or from partial tears in the tendon. Both cause inflammation in the tendon sheath which narrows the orifice into which the tendon glides. Some inflammation is actually beneficial in that it enables the tendon to heal. If the tendon is not properly rested, a vicious cycle is set up whereby the motion of the tendon in the inflamed sheath causes additional inflammation, which is detrimental and results in increased swelling and pain.

Initial treatment consists of ice applied for 30 minutes four or five times/day for the first 48 hours. Rest, elevation of the limb, and ice all help to decrease the swelling. Local steroid injections should not be used in the initial phase as they tend to retard healing. As a general rule, the greater the amount of swelling, the longer it will take for healing to be complete.

Following the first 48 hours of ice and rest, it is best to begin passive-resistive stretching exercises with ice. An easy way to accomplish this is to freeze a styrofoam cup full of water. The ice is then used to massage the injured part as you move the foot through a series of motion which places the tendon under a moderate amount of stretch. As the ice melts, tear a little of the cup away to expose more ice. When the tenderness has subsided, begin more vigorous exercises to build up flexibility and strength. It is very important for the athlete to do proper flexibility exercises prior to an athletic endeavor. Failure to do so is inviting recurrence of this problem. Once a tendon problem has occured, there is an increased chance for it to happen again. To prevent another episode of tendonitis, it is important to find a show with a proper heel that does not aggravate the tendonitis. A common mistake of joggers, especially women, is the sudden change of heel height when going from street shoes to competitive shoes. This could easily aggravate an existing Achilles Tendonitis. Above all, when an athletic injury is sustained, seek a professional's advice. Most injuries, if treated early, can be dealt with conservatively and with little loss of competitive time.

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