PHYSIOTHERAPY FOR CALF STRAINS AND ACHILLES TENDON INJURIES
In Milltown Physiotherapy Clinic our physiotherapists have great experience of treating calf and achilles pain. As we like to be active ourselves – running triathlons, hill walking or playing sport – we have also personally experienced these injuries and understand the frustration and pain that they can bring.
The calf muscles join together to become the achilles tendon which attaches to the heel. Pain in this area can range from tightness and mild discomfort in the lower leg to severe pain when weight bearing or pushing off from the toe.
Early evaluation and treatment is advisable in order to limit the bruising and swelling thereby expediting the healing process. Treatment in the early stages involves controlling the swelling using ice, compression and rest. This is then followed by manual therapy to facilitate the healing of new tissue and a specific rehabilitation programme aimed at restoring normal strength and flexibility to allow return to sport.
ACHILLES TENDON INJURIES
Achilles tendon injury is a very common overuse injury, particularly in runners. There are a number of factors which may predispose the athlete to injury including decreased flexibility of the calf muscles, a low or high arch profile of the foot, as well as training factors such as a change in footwear or an increase in training mileage.
If the Achilles tendon is overloaded repeatedly it is often not able to repair itself and this leads to weakening of the tendon. Achilles tendon injuries can become chronic if not treated at an early stage and can lead to rupture of the tendon which would require surgical repair. Symptoms of an Achilles tendon injury include pain at the back of the heel particularly associated with running and jumping activities, with loss of strength.
Treatment in the initial stages involves reducing excessive loading of the tendon through activity modification and perhaps taping or the use of prescription orthotics to improve foot mechanics which may be predisposing to the problem. This may then be followed by a specific rehabilitation programme involving eccentric strengthening exercises and stretching to improve flexibility.