Do you get a pain in the back of the heel every time you run or walk?
So many people suffer with this type of pain. While most of us would say that we can work through it, it just does not make doing exercise very fun. So, what is this pain in the back of your heel? Why do you get it and what can you do about it!
A common condition that many people suffer from is Achilles tendinopathy, this is an injury to the bottom third of the tendon that attaches your calf to your heel bone.
With the incidence of this type of injury on the rise, it is a good time to look in to why this is happening and why often it will not go away.
Pain in the back of the heel can be multifactorial and can be one of a number of conditions, however more often then not it is a manifestation of Achilles tendinopathy. The Achilles tendon is the conduit between your calf muscle and the heel bone in your foot.
Often when we start to get pain in this area it occurs as a small niggle during activity going away when we stop. This pain slowly becomes more noticeable increasing in pain and not resolving completely from activity to activity. It has been found that “Among competitive runners, the lifetime incidence of Achilles tendinopathy may be as high as 40 to 50 percent.”
“Pain of the Achilles tendon commonly affects both competitive and recreational athletes as well as the sedentary patient. The largest tendon in the body, the Achilles tendon, endures strain and risks rupture from running, jumping, and sudden acceleration or deceleration. The hallmarks of Achilles tendon problems seem to be damaged, weak, inelastic tissue” Achilles tendinopathy and tendon rupture: Authors: Karen L Maughan, MD Blake Reid Boggess, DO, FAAFP
The big mistake we make when this occurs is we stop our activity. Inevitably the pain goes away often with rest however this is lulling you into a false sense of security as when you start back exercising the pain comes back often worse then before.
The trick to resolving your heel pain is getting to the bottom of what is causing the pain. Some of the common causes are:
- Tight calf muscle
- Poor footwear
- Abnormal Foot and leg function
- Poor load management
- Genetically predisposed
- Biochemical factors including Diabetes neuropathy and arthrosclerosis
- Autoimmune disease
- Inflammatory disorders.
When managing this type of heel pain one of the first things you need to do is reduce the pain and inflammatory response. This can be done by managing the volume of activity you are doing. We suggest that you reduce the activities that are doing damage and replace them with activities that do not irritate the tendon. Remembering that the last thing we want to do is stop altogether.
In addition to this we need to look at your footwear, how you stretch and if you are over stretching. Some other treatments may also include foam rolling or dry needling to improve the elasticity in the calf muscle and improve the amount of movement available for the ankle joint. If it has been a problem for quite some time we may recommend Shockwave therapy.
Following this first phase of treatment the next phase is where you can start to load the tendon in a controlled environment. This is the reason MOST people who have this problem do not get better. They follow the first phase well but do not go through the process of getting the tendon ready to do the activity we want it to do. More often then not people return to their spot before there tendon is ready and suffer a reoccurrence of the problem.
If nothing else the one takeaway from this article is to ensure you follow a reloading program to make sure you fully recover from your Achilles tendinopathy.
Finally once the tendon has been adequately loaded we take you through a process of getting it ready for the specific activity you wish to perform. This often requires exercises that are specific to you and your goals.
Here at the Podiatry Point we have helped hundreds of people over come this problem and get back to being pain free and their sport stronger than before.
If you have been struggling with this problem then struggle no more! Come in for a Gap Free Heel pain Assessment and we can let we know if and how we can help yo achieve your goals too.