Despite its status as the toughest and strongest of the 4,000 or so tendons in the human body, the mighty Achilles is far from invulnerable. It deals with a lot of weight, pressure, and abuse day after day, step after step. And as we get older, it loses some of the strength and flexibility that may have protected it from injury in our younger years.
Not surprisingly, then, Achilles tendon injuries are fairly common, especially among active adults (particularly men) in their middle ages. While Achilles tendinitis and similar conditions involving inflammation or degeneration of the tendon tissue are often short-term annoyances that can be treated conservatively, partial or complete tearing of the tendon can also occur. This requires a much longer recovery period, often including surgery.
The lesson here? It’s better to prevent an injury than be forced to treat one. If you’ve had tendon pain in the past, or are in the key demo for Achilles injuries, try these strategies:
- Condition your tendons. Regular calf stretching and strengthening exercises are an essential component of preventing injury.
- Go slow at first. We want you out running, playing, and staying fit and active! But always start slowly with new sports or exercises, and don’t increase the pace or intensity by more than 10% per week.
- Work multiple muscle groups—and give your feet a break. Your workouts or athletic activities should provide a mix of high-impact and low-impact exercises. That way, when your feet are sore the day after a long run or a basketball tournament, you can swim laps or ride a bicycle instead.
- Choose routes carefully. Five miles on flat asphalt is not the same as five miles on hilly terrain, or gravel, or dirt. Try softer, flatter surfaces if pain becomes a problem.
- Go with the right gear. There’s always a temptation to save a few bucks by sticking with the same pair of running shoes until they’ve basically fallen apart, or using the same pair of all-purpose sneakers for all situations. But if you run or play any sports regularly, spending a little more to get a good pair of shoes—and replacing them on time—can save you both pain and money in the long run by helping you avoid injury and pain.
- Stay active throughout the week. The “weekend warrior” mentality is one shared by a lot of active adults—relatively sedentary throughout the work week, but ruggedly active on the weekends. We get it, but that’s a great way to get injured, too. So try to keep your body conditioned and active throughout the week to keep it more “warmed up” for competition.
- Listen to your body. This one is simple: if it hurts, stop! Exercise pushes you, but don’t let it push you to physical pain. That’s when the worst injuries often occur.
If you feel pain, tenderness, and swelling in one or both tendons—or worse, you feel the sharp snap of a rupture—make visiting Absolute Foot Care Specialists a high priority. Our team of seasoned foot care specialists are here to help you recover quickly so you can get back on the field at full strength. To schedule an appointment, give us a call at (702) 839-2010 today.