FNF: What are the signs that you might have Achilles tendonitis?
AT: The most classic sign is pain in the Achilles tendon, particularly around the heel or just a bit above the heel. As with most tendon injuries, it might feel worse when starting to exercise and may improve as people gradually warm up. You may have some swelling or crepitus (a sensation caused by inflammation around the tendon like there is a balloon or a small pocket of fluid on the tendon). As it moves toward being a chronic disease of the tendon, the tendon may become thicker as it attempts to repair itself. This poor healing process may also become a new source of pain as the tendon isn’t able work as well in its compromised state.
FNF: What are some things we can do to alleviate the symptoms and prevent them?
AT: The main thing is to recognize the symptoms. There could be a number of different factors that contribute to developing achilles tendonitis including factors related to training, including: volume, running surfaces, change in intensity, and other factors that include change in footwear or shoes that haven't been replaced recently.
Early on, rest and ice are important to address the inflammation. A trial of anti-inflammation medication (under the care of a physician) may also be tried with monitoring for improvement in the symptoms. If it has been an ongoing issue, seeing a doctor and getting set up with an appropriate set of physical therapy exercises to improve the strength and flexibility of the tendon and surrounding muscles. Calf muscle (gastrocnemius and soleus) soreness and tightness can also be a factor, so it is important to keep those muscles loose.