Ankle Achilles Tendinitis
"My heel and lower calf hurt, particularly while running or jumping."
Tendinitis can occur in any of the tendons about the ankle, including the flexor hallucis longus tendon (the dancer’s tendon), the peroneus brevis tendon, and the peroneus longus tendon. It most commonly occurs, however, in the body’s longest tendon—the Achilles tendon.
Able to withstand forces equal to and greater than 1000 pounds, this tendon connects the calf muscles to the heel bone (calcaneus) and is responsible for plantar flexion of the foot to achieve releve and performing jumps. Due to its’ heavy workload in the dancing population, it is prone to inflammation (tendinitis). It unfortunately is also the most frequently ruptured tendon in dancers and non-dancers alike.
Most cases of Achilles tendonitis are due to overtraining of the dancer, particularly heavy training during a short period of time. Other contributing factors for Achilles inflammation would be:
- Returning to dance after a long period of rest
- A natural lack of flexibility in the calf muscles
- Dancing on a hard surface or a non-sprung floor
Aside from pain over the area of the Achilles, dancers with Achilles tendonitis can also notice:
- Mild pain after dancing that worsens
- Tenderness in the morning located ½” above tendon attachment to heel bone
- Stiffness that fades once tendon is sufficiently warm
- Swelling and inflammation
As with all overuse injuries, the sooner the injury is addressed, the more positive the outcome.
Rest and ice are immediate treatments for conditions that do not allow for any pain free activity.
Active stretching of the Achilles is helpful. However, dancers need to exercise caution with stretching the Achilles beyond the point of comfort.
Strengthening exercises should be introduced gradually.
For chronic conditions, the use of an overnight splint to assist with dorsiflexion range of motion can be helpful.
Orthotic prescription can be helpful to correct any structural imbalances in the foot.
BOOK an assessment with our podiatrist who will provide treatment and identify and correct any underlying biomechanical issues and muscle imbalances and assist with rehabilitation.