Conquering Achilles Tendonitis In Athletes
- Volume 15 - Issue 11 - November 2002
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In a survey of professional athletic trainers and team physicians, Achilles tendonitis ranked third behind ankle sprains and plantar fasciitis as the primary presenting complaint within the athletic population.1 Additionally, it accounts for up to 18 percent of all running injuries.2 The condition is highly prevalent among runners, but it is also common in any athlete who endures repetitive high impact microtrauma.3
Regardless of the afflicted population, Achilles tendonitis can severely hamper an athlete’s training and has been the impetus for many athletes to end their careers.
Several factors can precipitate the development of Achilles tendonitis, which is known by numerous other terms including tendinosis, peritendinitis, tenosynovitis, peritendinopathy and Achilles tendinopathy. Overuse can be a cause, especially among the “weekend warrior” athletes.
When it comes to elite athletes, however, biomechanical abnormalities that cause abnormal or prolonged pronation or excessive supination can be an etiological factor. Rheumatic disorders, although they are much less common, can be an underlying etiology. Sudden increases in training, training intensity, changes in training surfaces, changes in shoegear and muscular imbalance can all play a role.3
Ensure A Thorough Anatomical Understanding
In order to provide optimal care, it’s essential to have a thorough knowledge of the associated anatomy of the superficial posterior leg and hindfoot. The gastrocnemius originates as medial and lateral muscle bellies from their respective femoral condyles and courses down the upper half of the leg, transitioning to a wide aponeurosis and ultimately uniting with the soleus to form the tendo Achilles. The soleus takes its origins from the posterior tibia, fibula and interosseous membrane, courses down the leg and ultimately shares its final attachment with the gastrocnemius through the tendo Achilles.