Achilles Tendonitis is the common term for pain around the Achilles Tendon and is reported frequently in Badminton players. Achilles Tendonitis usually comes on gradually, and is more common in those aged over 40. There is pain, which is worsened by activity, and the Achilles Tendon is painful to touch. Often the tendon feels very stiff first thing in the morning. The affected tendon may appear thickened in comparison to the unaffected side.
Medical professionals refer to this condition as Achilles Tendinopathy, which is characterised by degeneration of the Achilles Tendon. The degeneration means that the tendon does not possess its normal tensile strength and may be liable to rupture with continued sporting activity. Some researchers report a high incidence of Achilles Tendon Rupture in Badminton players, but overall a rupture of the Achilles Tendon is thankfully a rare injury.
Achilles Tendonitis is an overuse condition, so sudden increases in activity levels should be avoided. The intensity, duration and frequency of Badminton sessions should be carefully monitored and gradually progressed. Care should be taken if you begin playing more frequently or you begin playing at a higher standard which is physically more demanding, particularly if you are aged over 35.
Research suggests that an 'over pronated' foot position (where the foot rolls inwards) can place excessive strain on the Achilles Tendon and cause Achilles Tendonitis. In this case it is often useful to consult a Chartered Physiotherapist, who can carry out a biomechanical assessment. If there is excessive pronation it is usually effective to insert an Arch Supporting Insole that can help to correct the problem.
Ice Packs are effective at relieving pain, but the key to recovering from Achilles Tendonitis is to elicit a healing response by gently overloading the tendon. This may require rest from Badminton for up to three months, because the collagen tissue which the body produces to repair the damaged tendon takes three months to lay down and mature.
Research has shown that recovery is optimised by using 'eccentric muscle work' under the supervision of a Chartered Physiotherapist. Eccentric muscle work refers to a muscle that is lengthening while contracting - a contraction that occurs during movements such as landing and decelerating. By progressively increasing the eccentric muscle force through the Achilles Tendon, the Achilles Tendon will adapt and get stronger.
The Aircast AirHeel can be very effective in relieving heel pain due to Achilles Tendonitis. By applying compression to the heel and the arch of the foot, the AirHeel relieves strain on the Achilles Tendon and gives rapid relief to those suffering with Achilles Tendonitis.