As we enter the recreational sports season, one of the more common injuries is associated with heel pain. This can be caused by a number of things, but here are some tips that could help prevent any further injury.
The achilles tendon, a firm rope or cord-like tissue, connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. When the calf muscle contracts, it pulls on the achilles tendon causing the foot to point downward. This allows a person to raise their heel off the ground, jump, or push off when walking or running.
Injuries that can occur to the achilles tendon are due to overuse and repetition, or trauma injury. Injuries that occur to the achilles tendon are: (a) strain – injury to the muscle or tendon from a stretch or tension, (b) tendonitis – inflammation of the tendon or (c) rupture – partial or complete tear of the tendon. Young athletes usually suffer strains or tendonitis, while older athletes (age 35 and over) sometimes suffer tears or ruptures to the tendon. Be aware that with adolescents it is possible to actually pull the tendon off the bone. How can an achilles tendon injury be recognized? A strain would feel sore and tender to the touch, as well as painful when walking and running. Tendinitis has symptoms similar to those of a strain. Additionally, while touching the achilles area and moving the foot up and down, one may feel “crepitus” or a grating sensation; swelling is also possible. If the muscle or tendon is torn, a defect in the calf or tendon will be visible, and the foot will not move normally when the calf muscle is contracted.
When the tendon tears, sometimes a “pop” sound will be heard and felt. Deformity, plus associated loss of function, are good indications of a ruptured achilles tendon. See a doctor right away if there is a deformity, extreme swelling, or if intense pain is experienced.
First aid care is simple. For strains and tendonitis, use ice and rest. Apply ice for 15 minutes, four or five times a day. A “heel lift” inserted into your shoe may provide some relief. To re-strengthen the injured area after initial recovery, 30 to 50 heel raises each day are advised. If a doctor recommends therapy for the patient, a certified athletic trainer or physical therapist may use various modalities in treating the injury.
To help prevent this kind of injury, “warm-up” before exercise and athletic competition and perform calf stretches. Gentle stretching of the calf recommended. Stand 30-36 inches from a wall, keeping the heels on the floor, lean toward the wall and hold the position for 2 minutes. Do this three to four times each day. A daily regimen of heel raises will strengthen the calf muscles.
Scott Byrd is coordinator of the Fort Sanders Sports Medicine program, certified by the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) and Licensed by the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners. Scott is also a National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) Approved Clinical Instructor as well as a NATA Board of Certification approved examiner.... read the rest of the story by Subscribing now.