Tendonitis can happen in any tendon of the body, when excess force causes inflammation. Since the Achilles tendon is one of the longest in the body, it's also one of the most likely to be inflamed (though the problem is also common in the shoulders, wrists, knees, elbows, and heels). The Achilles tendon is remarkably strong—it can handle 1,000 pounds of force!—but it can easily become worn down; every mile you walk puts 60 tons of pressure on just one foot. Jumping and high-impact activities such as basketball, volleyball, and running put you especially at risk, as does rapidly increasing the mileage and intensity of your workouts. "Over time, it can just become too much stress for your tendon to handle," Drakos says.
Luckily, there are some simple fixes for this condition, which affects about one-quarter of active individuals, Drakos says. Here, the five Achilles tendonitis treatment methods Drakos recommends:
- Order up some RICE. We're not talking about on your sushi roll. Pop an anti-inflammatory and try the classic rest, ice, compression, elevation plan to ease the ache—especially if you think the root cause is amping up the intensity of your workouts too quickly.
- Flex your feet. Tight calf muscles increase the strain placed on your tendon. Add the drop-off stretch to your flexibility practice at least twice a week.
- Raise the bar. Incorporate calf raises—with or without weights—into your resistance routine to strengthen the muscles that surround your Achilles tendon. See three stellar ways to switch up this lower-leg move.
- Drink up. Tight tendons can be linked to dehydration, so fill up your water bottle and aim for 64 ounces a day.
- Shop smart. "Proper shoe fit is key to help absorb shock," Drakos says, so use "Achilles tendonitis treatment" as an excuse to score some new sneaks. Invest in a spiffy new pair every 300 to 500 miles. If your joints still ache after switching, try to do higher-impact activities, like running, on a surface that gives a bit. In other words, choose the track or grass over pavement.
Note: If you're limping, are derailed from your usual non-fitness activities, or feel sharp, sudden pain, see your doctor, as this could be a sign of something more severe like an Achilles rupture or Achilles tendinosis (aging-related degeneration).