If you have recently been feeling pain in the back of your calf and your heel, then you may have Achilles tendonitis. While only a doctor can make a proper diagnosis, in this post, you will learn what this condition is and what you can do to help you feel better. I will also give you some specific advice to consider when buying shoes if you have Achilles tendonitis.
What is Achilles tendonitis?
In short, inflammation in the Achilles tendon is Achilles tendonitis. This tendon is the longest in the body, and it connects the bottom of your heel to the calf muscle. This tendon can become injured or weak, and you can experience several diseases when it does, including:
- Achilles tendon tears – The tears may be any size and result in pain and swelling in the lower leg, usually requiring surgery to repair.
- Achilles tendon rupture – Usually, the Achilles tendon makes a popping sound, and swelling and pain occur in the lower leg immediately. This condition requires surgery.
- Achilles bursitis- The fluid sac surrounding the tending. This condition may require long-term treatment.
- Achilles tendonitis – Overuse of the Achillies tendon causes this condition.
Achilles tendonitis can be divided into two subgroups. Noninsertional Achilles tendonitis occurs in the middle part of the tendon when microscopic tears begin to break down, causing swelling and the tendon to thicken. Insertional Achilles tendonitis occurs where the tendon attaches to the heel bone. This type does not require any activity, but it typically occurs in people who have done a lot of activity in the past, such as long-distance runners.
What tests are done to determine Achilles tendonitis
If you think that you are suffering from Achilles tendonitis, your first stop should be your doctor’s office. Your doctor may do several tests in their office, including having you lie prone on your stomach and squeezing the affected body part and hitting the knee with their hammer to watch its movement. The doctor may also order an MRI, CT scan, and ultrasound.
How to treat Achilles tendonitis
Several exercises and stretches may help alleviate Achilles tendonitis.
Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Lift your affected leg slightly, so your heel is the only part left on the floor. Now, grab ahold of your big toe and pull upwards slightly. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Repeat five times.
Calf-plantar fascia stretch
Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Grab a towel and wrap it around your foot, just under your toes. Pull back on the towel until your foot moves towards you. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat up to four times. This exercise is best when done about five times per day.
Stand about 2.5 ft. from a blank wall. Step back with your injured leg. Put enough pressure on your heel that your foot turns slightly inward. Now, lean into the wall. Repeat up to four times about five times per day.
Stand with the balls of your feet on the edge of a step or curb. Slowly drop the heel of your affected leg until you feel the muscles begin to stretch. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat up to four times five times per day.
Daily routines and tips
If you are feeling pain in your Achilles tendon or notice swelling, then ice can help. Never put ice directly on the skin. Instead, put an ice pack inside a towel and hold the towel on your affected leg.
Take ibuprofen or naproxen to help stop the pain and help to reduce swelling. While more research is needed, numerous studies show that naproxen is better for people who have heart issues.
Most Achilles tendonitis occurs when people suddenly start exercising or drastically increase the amount of exercise they are doing. Like swimming and cycling, many activities do not put additional strain on the Achilles tendon.
Exercising on a flat surface is best. You are more likely to develop Achilles tendonitis if you frequently run up or down hills. Therefore, you should try to find a flat area with a soft surface.
Wearing the correct footwear is essential for avoiding Achilles tendonitis. Try wearing shoes that have about a 1 in. heel. Wearing flat shoes increases the odds that your feet will collapse inward. Likewise, avoid wearing high heels as they cause the tendon to shorten and tighten, leaving it more prone to injuries.
Best shoes for Achilles tendonitis
If a doctor has diagnosed you with Achilles tendonitis, then they may recommend you wear an orthopedic boot for a while. While you should follow your doctor’s advice, wearing a boot too long can cause more damage because the boot is designed to stop the tendon from moving. Therefore, wearing the right shoes as soon as possible may help strengthen the tendon and get you moving pain-free sooner. There are several types of shoes that can help you in the process; let’s see what you should look for:
Height of heel
As I already shared, a short heel is a great way to get back on your feet after an Achilles tendon injury. To help to prevent Achilles tendonitis at work a supportive well-fitted work boot is essential. Wearing a short heel can also help to prevent future injuries. You should avoid all shoes with a heel higher than 2 in., so you will need to find the middle ground. In addition to causing your Achilles tendon to shorten, wearing high heels makes your ankle more likely to roll to the outside. Wearing high heels also causes excess stress on your metatarsal bones.
When choosing heels, go for a chunkier option instead of a pointed one. This helps distribute your weight better so that you do not stress the Achilles tendon. These shoes help to move stress from that point onto the ball of your foot, which may leave you more stable on your feet.
Heel to Toe Drop
Wearing shoes with a heel is not practical when running, and you should look for a shoe with a larger heel-to-toe drop in those cases. When you set a shoe on a flat surface, the toe should be at least 5 mm. or 0.2 in. off the surface. This helps to reduce pressure on the lower body. Unfortunately, it also puts more pressure on the knees so that it can be a trade-off.
Look for shoes that have a lot of cushioning in the heels. The cushioning provides added support where the Achilles tendon meets the heel. This cushioning can also give the heel a little height boost, which can help reduce stress on the Achilles tendon.
At the same time, be careful that the amount of cushioning is not so thick that it affects the natural way your foot hits the ground. The heel should hit the ground before the forefoot. It is a delicate balancing act, and each person will need to determine how much cushioning can be in a shoe before it changes its natural gait.
It is essential that you select shoes with arch support that fit your feet. In most cases, people have one of three types of arches. In order to find out your type, you can do a simple experiment. Take a shower and step out of the bathtub onto a piece of paper or a towel that will show your footprint. The type of arch you have can change over your lifetime, so repeat this experiment before buying new shoes.
If you see most of your footprint, you have flat feet. While some people are born with natural flat feet, most develop them by wearing shoes that do not support them. When left uncorrected, flat feet can be a contributing factor to developing Achilles tendonitis. Therefore, you should choose options that have raised support in the middle of the shoe. If you have flat feet, you may also want to talk to your doctor about custom orthopedics.
You have a normal arch if you see about half of your footprint when you step out of the bathtub. You should look for footwear options where the arch is placed directly under your foot. While you are lucky enough not to experience problems caused by flat feet, you must protect your arch so that it does not fall. Additionally, wearing shoes with enough support is essential to stop you from overpronating, leading to Achilles tendonitis and ankle problems.
If you step out of the bathtub and see very little of your footprint, you have high arches. Look for shoes with a high enough arch to properly position your foot so that you are not putting undue stress on your arch. Additionally, many people with high arches find that high-top shoes provide extra support helping them maintain their balance better.
Your shoe should only bend where your foot naturally bends. This helps ensure that you get the proper support you need when you are moving. In particular, look for a shoe with a deep heel, as it will help provide additional support when your foot hits the ground. Squeeze the heel of the shoe, and it should not compress. Try to bend the shoe in half near its middle. If it bends easily, it will not supply enough support for your foot. Ensure that there is enough room in the toe box for your toes to wiggle slightly. If not, you can cause more significant pressure on your heel as your foot struggles to find the room it needs with each step. Choosing an ankle collar can help stabilize the Achilles tendon.
When choosing shoes to prevent or recover from Achilles tendonitis, choose shoes made from a soft material that offers some support. Leather can be a great choice as it is supple. Yet, it is strong enough to provide support. Other fantastic options include cork and polypropylene.
Deep Heel Cup
Look for a shoe with a deep heel cup as it will help to stabilize your foot. A deep heel cup helps your foot stay where it belongs so that it is properly cushioned, and the arch support does its job. While the standard heel cup is about 12 mm. or 0.5 in. tall, deep heel cups start at about 18 mm. or .70 inches and continue to 30 mm. or 1.5 inches deep. At the same time, it is essential that the deep heel cup does not interfere with the shoe’s arch support system or lower the height of the heel.
Increasingly manufacturers are making shoes with toe springs or curled-up toes. These shoes can be a fantastic choice for people with Achilles tendonitis because the shoe’s design helps move the foot forward naturally. Think about your body before you buy a pair of shoes with a toe spring. If your hips and knees are stronger than your feet and ankle muscles, this can be an excellent choice for you. Alternatively, if your feet and ankle muscles are stronger than your knee and hip muscles, this may not be the best choice for you. In all cases, you should avoid shoes that keep the toes permanently elevated because it will eventually cause foot muscle weakness.
If you suffer from Achilles tendonitis, your first step should be visit your doctor’s office. While you are waiting, you can use ice and painkillers to help keep down the swelling. Then, after you have recovered from your injury, be sure to get back on the right foot by buying the correct type of shoe. If you think you are developing Achilles tendonitis, then be sure to stretch that tendon about five times a day can help prevent trouble. In addition, you will want to wear shoes with a short chunky heel that is supportive of your arch type.
If you have any questions, please reach out. You will also want to read our other great articles for helpful fashion tips that you can apply to your everyday life. If you have recently been feeling pain in the back of your calf and your heel, then you may have Achilles tendonitis. While only a doctor can make a proper diagnosis, in this post, you have learned what this condition is and what you can do to help you feel better. I have also given you some specific things to look for when buying shoes if you have Achilles tendonitis.