Achilles Tendinitis (sometimes referred to as Achilles Tendonitis) is the inflammation of the Achilles tendon. The Achilles tendon is the thickest in the human body, and is used extensively in movements around the foot. As a result, it is prone to being overused by physical activities such as running and jumping which involve repetitive movements in the area. The pain that is experienced as a result of the condition is from the torn fibers in the tendon.
Overuse injuries are a particularly common cause, wear gradual wear and tear damages the fibers in the Achilles tendon. There is not much to prevent tendinitis from overuse other than to limit the usage of the tendon, but gradually increasing the exposure to exercises that work the Achilles tendon can increase its strength and elasticity, and developing a better resistance to acute tendinitis.
Another common cause is introducing a sudden change in physical activity. For example, a shift from a relatively sedentary lifestyle to high-intensity physical workouts can damage the Achilles tendon which has not had time to strengthen. Another example might be a change in the training surface, which can change the amount of pronation/supination during the loading phase.
The best way to mitigate damage to the tendon is to stretch and warm-up the tendon so that its capacity to stretch is increased and damage from an excessive stretch becomes less likely. The amount of wear to the tendon for a given amount of time training can be reduced by changing the training surface or footwear, for example trainers with shock-absorption.
If tendinitis develops, it is common to have stiffness and a reduced range of motion around the foot the following day. To aid faster recovery, the patient should refrain from strenuous physical activity, which could make symptoms worse and develop into Achilles tendon rupture. Cold compression therapy can be used to reduce swelling and pain. For more serious cases of the condition, a visit to the doctor is advised to prevent further damage.
Sports that involve high amounts of lunging and jumping are likely to cause Achilles Tendinitis. However, sports where the athlete performs a large amount of jumping and landing, such as basketball and volleyball, are also likely to cause patellar tendinitis (colloquially known as jumper’s knee). This is inflammation of the tendons in the inferior patellar region, commonly caused by overuse of the extensor mechanism in the knee. Like Achilles tendinitis, the patient should not engage in further physical activity as the damage from microtears exceeds the rate of recovery.
According to Vertical Jump Development, users of the Vert Shock program were significantly less prone to developing Patellar and Achilles tendinitis following completion of the program. The program involved repetitive jumping with a focus on increasing the elasticity of tendons surrounding both the knee and ankle.