5 TOP TIPS TO MANAGE TENDON PROBLEMS (TENDINOPATHY, PREVIOUSLY KNOWN AS TENDONITIS)
Prevention is always better than cure. Understanding risk factors is important to make sure you stay injury free and notice signs and symptoms early.
- Rehab Old Injuries
Achilles tendinopathy is common in people who have previously suffered from a lower limb injury and previous lower limb tendon problems. This could be anything, from a sprained ankle to knee surgery in the past. This is often due to a weakness that develops whilst the injury is recovering. Therefore it is important to make sure that your strength is back to normal before you start aggressively training or upping distance and pace quickly.
- Manage training loads
Which brings us on to the next point, managing training loads. Following a training schedule is important to avoid “boom and bust” behaviours. Increasing training loads to quickly (beyond 10% a week) a quick change in terrain (from normally running on flat ground to running hills to a change in pace) can all be factors that overload and cause a flare in Achilles pain. Following a training schedule to monitor and slowly increase training loads will help you to stay injury free and give your body adequate rest between runs.
- Recognise early signs and symptoms/ start rehab as soon as possible
Early signs and symptoms are important to note, and adjust your training plan accordingly. The most common symptom is pain in the morning, or the following day post run when descending stairs. This is a sign that you have caused some swelling within the tendon and need to recover before you push your distance/ speed on the next run. Strength training in this time is important to facilitate recovery and movement of the tendon and will help to reduce your symptoms. Start back to running as soon as it is comfortable to do so, this may be a run walk to start with reduced distance and pace to help facilitate recovery and reduced the effects of deconditioning. Consulting a physiotherapist will be useful in this phase to have guidance and help optimising your rehab.
- Do not stretch!
When the Achilles is in this phase it is important not to stretch it. Normally tendinopathy occurs when the calf and tendon are too weak/ pliable for the force it is exposed too, therefore no efficient is absorbing shock. Stretching has been shown to weaken the muscle further and increase pliability of the tendon so therefore will make it more susceptible to a tendinopathy. Also is you have a tendinopathy in the lower part of the Achilles (insertional tendinopathy) this will cause compression and may aggravate the tendon further.
- Do not heat or massage (or needle) the tendon
Do not massage the tendon or use heat on the tendon in the early stages, this is likely to make the tendon more painful and likely to cause a flare, slowing down recovery, not allowing rehab to take place due to increased pain levels. Light exercise is the best painkiller in this phase, even if it’s just walking, cycling or running.
Here is a video of one of our physio’s talking you through Tendinopathy: