Can Chiropractic help Achilles Tendonitis?
Achilles tendonitis is inflammation of the achilles tendon - the cord that connects your calf to your heel. It gets irritated from overuse, and causes pain during the push off phase of walking/running and activity involving hills. Typically it's most painful when starting a workout and after cooling down, While working out, the pain isn’t as noticeable, as the tendons and muscles become warm and more pliable.
In order to be effective, Achilles tendonitis needs to be treated from several angles:
1. Biomechanical chain - why is that tissue being overworked? Are your other push-off muscles, such as your glutes or quads, not strong or not activating quickly enough, and your achilles is having to make up the difference?
2. Joint motion - You have 26 bones in your foot. All those joints need to be functioning within their normal range of motion in order to absorb the shock your foot experiences each time it hits the ground, otherwise, the soft tissue in your achilles tendon starts having to absorb this shock. Your ankle and first toe also need to have full flexion and extension, otherwise this also increases the workload on your achilles and calf. Hip extension is important too, so we’ll check everything from your toes to your low back to ensure all joints can move the way they’re supposed to.
3. Muscle tone - do you have tight calfs? Are there some adhesions or scar tissue present in between the muscles of your calf, so layers of muscle in your calf can't slide over one another smoothly?
4. Neurologic stimulus - There’s some new evidence coming out that the way your brain responds to outside stimulus changes when a tendon initially gets irritated. The changes are bilateral, which explains why sometimes tendonitis starts on one side, then moves to the other side. Sometimes one side gets better while the other remains painful. This is pretty new research from the British Journal of Sports medicine, so we’ll incorporate some neurologic stimulation into your rehab exercises - such as using a metronome with traditional heel drop-down exercises.
How We treat achilles tendonitis
As a chiropractor, I like to address Achilles Tendonitis using the following:
1. Functional analysis of how you move to identify biomechanics chain errors we can correct using home exercise/stretching.
2. Chiropractic adjustments to your feet, knees, hips, and spine, to get any joints that are stuck moving agian.
3. Soft tissue work whether it’s instrument assisted, such as Graston or FAKTR, or using a manual techniques, such as Active Release Technique/ART, or use of a vibration massager to stimulate proprioceptors and decrease tissue tone - we’ve got options.
3. Kinesiotape/Dynamic Tape to decelerate forces impacting the tissue, help remove inflammation, and bring increased circulation to the area.
4. If you play a sport or run, we’ll check out your form to see if a tweak here and there could reduce impact on the achilles. A prime example of this is the shift for mid-foot/forefoot strike in running - landing on your forefoot instead of your heel places increased load on the achilles.
5. Cold laser to increase healing energy within the tissues and decrease inflammation. We have to get rid of the inflammation, then the tissues can heal.
6. Functional Nutrition - If there’s something lacking in your diet, either to help decrease inflammation or provide the tendons with what they need to heal, we’ll talk about options.
I hope this article has been informative and helped give you an idea on how chiropractors can help with Achilles Tendonitis. Please give our office a call or, if you’d like to set up an appointment, feel free to request an appointment online. Keep having fun out there!
- Dr. Jenn Nolan