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Emily’s Football Focus Part 13: Achilles Tendinopathy

The Achilles tendon is the strongest tendon in the body serving both the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles originating near the mid-calf and inserting onto the hill. Football involves several skills that demand complex movements making footballers susceptible to injuries, and tendinopathy is one of the most recorded overuse sports injuries. 

What is Achilles Tendinopathy?

Achilles Tendinopathy refers to a combination of pathological changes affecting the Achilles tendon - usually due to overuse and excessive chronic stress upon the tendon. However, it is not exclusively athletes and footballers that suffer with it! The pain caused by this will usually either be right near the heel bone or just above this along the extent of the tendon itself.

What Causes Achilles Tendinopathy?

Sudden increases in load can often lead to symptoms. For example, going back to pre-season training after a period of time off or an increased number of matches/training sessions in any given week may be enough to cause symptoms. Inadequate rest and recovery time between football games and training can also be a contributing factor.

Other risk/contributing factors may include:

  • Calf muscle weakness

  • Calf muscle tightness

  • Improper footwear

  • Improper foot mechanics

  • Obesity

What symptoms to look out for?

Pain and reduced function are the main characteristics of achilles tendinopathy. Some common hallmarks are:

  • Morning pain and stiffness localised to the tendon

  • Tendon may be painful to touch

  • Pain on activities such as hopping and calf raises

  • In the later stages there may be a thickening of the tendon

These symptoms will usually come on gradually and even minor symptoms are likely to get worse if left for too long and you continue to play football through the pain.

How do we manage Achilles Tendinopathy?

A comprehensive rehabilitation programme for achilles tendinopathy is a vital part of ensuring the best outcomes and preventing recurrences. The purpose of the programme will be to provide mechanical load to the tendon to promote remodelling, decrease pain and increase endurance and strength of the calf muscles, in particular. The four phases of this plan are outlined below:

  1. Managing symptoms and reducing load - to stop the tendon from becoming even more overloaded and decrease the irritation of the tendon

  2. Recovery - to regain the strength of the calf muscles and improve the Achilles’ tolerance to load

  3. Rebuild - to promote further tendon recovery by implementing heavier resistance training and begin running and jumping activities

  4. Return to sport - getting back into full football while achilles and lower limb function continues to improve

It is vital that each step of this process is tailored to the individual to get the best outcomes and get you back on the pitch as safely and as soon as possible if you are suffering from an achilles tendinopathy.

Here at SV Sports Therapy, we can help footballers and athletes to deal with tendon-related injuries by assessing their individual needs, using a variety of treatment methods and providing bespoke rehabilitation and management plans to get them safely back onto the pitch pain-free.

Did you know that alongside SV Sports Therapy, Emily works alongside the academy at Watford Football Club, providing pitch-side first aid, injury assessment and injury rehabilitation to players aged 9-16? She knows her stuff!

Read more here:

Give us a call to book in with Emily on 0203 4944343 or email or you can also book online here.

She would love to serve you!


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