What is Achilles tendinopathy?

Achilles tendinopathy is a condition which affects the Achilles tendon in one way or another. Tendinopathy is an umbrella term widely used to describe conditions causing pain or limiting the function of the Achilles tendon and it covers inflammation of the tendon (tendinitis), degeneration of the tendon or other causes of pain located in the Achilles tendon.

What causes Achilles tendinopathy?

Most common causes of Achilles tendinopathy are:

  • overuse- repetitive movements of a sport such as running, football or basketball.
  • daily basic activities such as walking.
  • can be predisposed by structural abnormalities such as the fallen arch of the foot known as pes cavus.
  • incorrect or poorly worn footwear may also predispose the tendon to developing tendinopathy. 

What are the symptoms of Achilles tendinopathy?

Most common symptom is pain at the Achilles tendon which in most cases is present just above the heel. However, tendinopathy can affect the tendon or the insertion of the tendon, which is located under the heel, hence, you might experience pain there too. Level of pain varies from mild to debilitating. Most of the time the area is worst in the morning or after prolonged time of inactivity. Pain may subside 5-15 min into moving and you should be able to go about your day.  If you are participating in a physical activity, pain in the area can worsen with activity or subside but feel sore after the activity in mild cases. Also, the tendon can be thickened and/or inflamed and swollen. If you are experiencing insertion tendinopathy, a bony spur may start to grow around the base of your heel. 

What is a sports massage?

It is a type of massage which is taught as a part of syllabus in degrees such as Sports Therapy or Sports Rehabilitation. The qualification of sports massage therapist may also be obtained doing a separate course at level 3, 4 or 5. Because there are no laws to protect the public from incompetence of certain therapists, make sure to check that your therapist is registered with an appropriate governing body to show that the therapist is professional, committed and has required qualifications to deliver a treatment of a good standard.

Also, sports massage can feel very similar to Swedish or deep tissue massage as techniques used are essentially the same. Those involve:

  • Effleurage – gentle and soothing strokes over the skin to warm up muscles and get them ready for deeper work.
  • Petrissage – is kneading and wringing of the muscles whilst applying a deep pressure. It helps to loosen the muscle tension.
  • Tapotement – is percussion techniques which can be applied using fingers, edge of the hands or cupped hands. This type of technique helps to revitalise the worked muscles, increase the excitability and warm them up for a physical activity.
  • Friction – is very focused and deep pressure applied on a specific area of the muscle. It helps to break down adhesions and scar tissue as well as loosen off tight muscles.

What are the benefits of sports massage?

There are several benefits of sports massage. Those include:

  • Relaxation.
  • Release of muscle tension and spasm.
  • Release adhesions. 
  • Break down scar tissue.
  • Help to manage anxiety and stress. 
  • Improved circulation.
  • Increase the range of motion of joints. 
  • Improve muscle flexibility.
  • Help to alleviate delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS) after physical activity.
  • Help to warm up and cool down.
  • Increase efficiency of recovery after an injury when used with appropriate rehabilitation programs.

How does sports massage help with Achilles tendinopathy?

Sports massage can help with Achilles tendinopathy by increasing the circulation in the area which would provide more blood and nutrients, hence, aid the recovery. It also helps to break down scar tissue or adhesions relaxing the muscle which can help to reduce the intensity of the symptoms and improve the mobility of the ankle.

It is important to bear in mind however, that sports massage will feel very uncomfortable, and you will very likely feel sore after the treatment. Also, sports massage on its own is unlikely to help you to cure Achilles tendinopathy as you will have to do certain exercises as well as make some changes to your physical activity level while recovering from the condition.

We hope this information is useful for you. If you need advice or have any questions about our treatments, please contact us. You can find us in Mill Hill Broadway and Islington. We are always happy to help. If you like this blog, please share!




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