Signs or Symptoms Pain or discomfort in the Achilles tendon with up or down movement of the ankle and foot; as in walking, running, and climbing stairs. Quite often, pain is also elicited by simply touching or applying pressure to the tendon. A decrease in range of motion will usually result due to the pain; and swelling may be noted in severe cases.
Causes Overuse of the calf muscle as in long distance running, or running up hills can often result in Achilles tendonitis (bear in mind that overuse can sometimes mean insufficient recovery). Direct trauma to the tendon, perhaps from being kicked while playing sports may also be a cause. Poorly fitting shoes should be considered, especially if there is undue pressure being exerted on the tendon itself. Structural misalignments or abnormalities like dysfunction in the joints of the foot and ankle (including over-pronation), or a short leg can also be a cause. However, the most common cause is an over-contraction of the calf muscle which attaches to the Achilles tendon. (I’ll address this at the end of the article)
Standard Treatment Generally, rest, ice, stretching, and anti-inflammatory medications are recommended. Other physical therapy modalities such as therapeutic ultrasound or electric muscle stimulation may be used. In some circumstances, a heel lift may be used.
Applied Kinesiology Approach The focus of applied kinesiology treatments for any musculoskeletal complaint is proper muscle balance. In the case of Achilles tendonitis, I would consider a weakness in the muscles that act as synergists or antagonists to the calf muscle. This might explain why the calf muscle is over-contracted, or tight and shortened in the first place. Joint alignment, whether in the lower extremity, spine or pelvis should also be considered as aggravating factors, and corrected with standard chiropractic adjustments.
The most common cause I see is inhibited muscles in the lower leg (known as the peronei). This tends to be the primary reason for a tight calf muscle. In addition, nutritional factors may need to be considered. And, as always, a specific treatment plan for each individual is recommended.
Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology