Suffering from Achilles tendinitis?

Modern day warriors work hard during the week and play hard over the weekend.  Dancing until the break of dawn, riding bikes up mountains by day, or working out until your body can’t physically handle anymore exercise can place a lot of strain- especially in the area on the back of your heel known as the Achilles tendon.

the achilles tendonThis injury can be traced back to Greek mythology where the mightiest Greek warrior “Achilles” was made immortal after being dipped in the river Styx.  However, during the Trojan War the enemy managed to kill the Greek hero by striking Achilles with a single arrow piercing his heel, the only mortal part of his body.

Many modern day warriors suffer from Achilles tendinitis which is inflammation of the Achilles tendon says Dr Shannon Munteanu from the La Trobe University’s Division of Allied Health Podiatry Clinic.

‘Achilles tendinitis is very common for men and women involved in physical activity like jogging, power walking and dancing which places a lot of strain on the back of their heel.  At least 20 per cent of Achilles related injuries are due to running,’ Dr Munteanu says.

Athletes however are not the only ones who suffer with this injury up to 30 per cent of people with an Achilles tendon injury are not physically active.  People with tendinitis try a range of treatments to help manage the pain but are often left frustrated.

‘Sufferers take anti-inflammatory medication, steroid injections and use other treatments which has little evidence to support that they are effective,’ he says.

La Trobe University is attempting to relieve this frustration by offering free treatment valued at $700 for modern day warriors between the ages of 18 to 55 who have been suffering with Achilles tendinitis for at least three months.

‘We are trying to prove the theory that shoe insoles are effective in reducing the pain associated with this injury.  Participants will be randomly allocated treatment with calf muscle strengthening and one of two types of custom made shoe insoles,’ says Dr Munteanu.  

Meanwhile for people who are experiencing any stiffness, difficulty walking and swelling of the Achilles tendon here are three tips to help prevent the injury from getting worse.


1.    Never work through the pain

Dr Munteanu explains that resting is the only option when people are suffering with Achilles tendinitis.

‘Whether you jog every morning or you are having difficulty walking it’s always a better option to rest the area rather than working through the pain, any physical activity can aggravate the injury,’ he says.


2.    Wear good quality supportive shoes

People with flat feet or highly arched feet should invest in a good pair of shoes for daily support because people with these conditions are prone to injuring their Achilles tendon.

‘When you have a flattened arch or high arch it pulls on calf muscles and keeps the Achilles tendon under tight strain. This constant stress on the heel and tendon can cause inflammation, pain and swelling,’ Dr Munteanu says.


3.    Switch between heels and flats

Ladies this one is for you!  Heels and ladies’ flats are incredibly fashionable but not good to wear all day everyday.  It’s recommended to switch between wearing high heels and flat shoes with a 1-2cm heel during your work day, and nights out says Dr Munteanu.

‘When ladies wear heels they are keeping their foot in a “tiptoe” position which shortens their calf muscles and reduces the flexibility of the Achilles tendon.  This can also happen if their shoes are completely flat,’ he says.  

Another great tip is to get involved with this study- it is sure to make a difference, and there has been great feedback from delighted participants so far.

Participants in the Achilles study will be required to attend four one-hour sessions over twelve months at the University’s main Melbourne campus in Bundoora.  To find out more about Achilles tendinitis or if you are eligible for this study please contact:


Dr Shannon Munteanu

Department of Podiatry, La Trobe University

T: 03 9479 5866 E: s.munteanu@latrobe.edu.au W: www.achillesrct.com

For any media enquiries please contact:

Lisa Prowling

La Trobe University Media Officer on

T: 03 9479 5517 E: L.Prowling@latrobe.edu.au

 

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