This is a common problem which affects many people as most sports involve some degree of running, jumping or hopping. It can come on suddenly and feel like sharp pain or can build up gradually and in most cases is a combination of both. Each person will have a unique “package” of factors responsible for their symptoms but common factors are foot mechanics, amount and type of training and instability around the hips. Rehabilitation times vary enormously depending on factors such as how long it has been there, your age and the type of activities you do. Generally speaking the longer it has been there the longer it will take to get better. It is never a good idea to ignore “niggles” that won’t go away or that come back after a period of rest.
Sheila is a keen jogger in her forties. She had been running with no problems for about 2 years and decided to train for a half-marathon. This went well at first but as she increased her mileage she started to notice stiffness and “twinges” in the left Achilles area. This got progressively worse over a few weeks and by the time Sheila came to Stranmillis Physiotherapy she was unable to run any distance without pain and had a lot of stiffness in the left heel and lower calf on a daily basis.
Assessment revealed that Sheila’s feet were the main source of the problem in that they did not absorb and distribute load efficiently so that every time she walked or ran, too much stress was being placed on the Achilles tendon. Over time this had built up to create symptoms. Although Sheila had no symptoms on the right side testing revealed that she had a similar though less severe problem here as well. This is a common finding. Weakness in some muscles around the hips were additional factors. Treatment involved soft-tissue work and LASER to help the damaged tissue to recover, specific exercises for feet and hips and Orthotics [tailored insoles to correct foot biomechanics]. In total Sheila had 6 sessions spread over 6 weeks and was able to complete the half-marathon.