• Sam Hawken

Achilles Tendinopathy = Science Made Simple

Updated: Apr 17

Achilles Tendinopathy = Science Made Simple

In the sport of running, many injuries that occur are classified as overuse injuries, occurring from pushing the body further than it is currently conditioned for, this is something that all calibres of runners can be guilty of, whether it’s that new found desire to getting into shape and running every morning that week, a period of warm and sunny weather, causing you to break from your training schedule as it’s 'such a perfect day for a run' or stepping up the distance of your runs without planning it out in your marathon training. Over-training amongst runners can lead to the onset of injuries such as plantar fasciopathy and tendinopathies, but for now we will focus on Achilles tendinopathy which is very common amongst the running community.

Tendinopathy - Science Made Simple

Our current understanding of tendinopathy has progressed greatly in the last few years, with Jill Cook’s tendinopathy continuum being the most widely accepted concept. This concept categorises tendinopathy into 3 stages; a reactive tendinopathy, tendon disrepair and degenerative tendinopathy.

The tendon can and will progress through these stages if it's left unchecked. A tendinopathy most commonly occurs with a gradual onset which often coincides with a period of increased activity. It will often present with pain and stiffness in the morning, and the pain may reduce during exercise but... it returns afterwards.

Achilles Tendinopathy

So How Does A Tendon Work? During sporting activities, the tendon acts similar to a spring being compressed, storing energy from a movement, to then be released, returning the spring to its normal position and ready to accept load once again.

Reactive Tendinopathy- This is considered the initial stage in which the tendon responds to a sudden burst of activity that it’s not used to. Symptoms are most often pain and the appearance of swelling in the tendon.

Tendon Disrepair – This is considered more of a chronic stage, the tendon will have a thicker appearance when compared to the corresponding limb, pain will still be present during this stage.

Degenerative Tendinopathy – The final stage in which biological changes cause the tendon to change almost irreversibly, pain might no longer be present but now there is a high chance of tendon rupture.

So now that you know the 3 stages of Tendinopathy, check out what to do about it here.

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