Achilles heel in sport

Do you suffer from achilles tendon pain?

Achilles injuries dominated the sporting headlines this weekend. David Haye’s, the former World Heavyweight Boxing Champion, is to undergo immediate Achilles surgery following his shock defeat to Tony Bellew in the All-British heavyweight fight on Saturday night. It is unsure if he has ruptured his Achilles as of yet but if he has it could leave him out of the ring for 9 months.

Ciara Mageean also stepped off the track in the final of the 1500m in the European Athletics Championships in Belgrade, reporting pain and loss of power into her right achilles.

Injury is always a potential risk in sport. The Achilles tendon the thickest and strongest tendon in the human body, is the common tendon of the gastrocnemius and soleus muscle (calf muscles). The achilles tendon is prone to injury with repeated high loading. Runners have a 15 times greater risk of an Achilles tendon rupture due to the high impact of the sport. The onset of pain may be sudden, gradual but noticeable or insidious.


There was several factors that can contribute to pain in your achilles; these are:

  • Overtraining, tiredness, stress
  • Poor running technique (biomechanics)
  • Calf weakness
  • Poor footwear
  • Poor flexibility of the calf muscles
  • Running on hard surfaces
  • Running on a cambered surface
  • Sudden increase in activity – milage, speed, gradient
  • Change of footwear

If you notice swelling or pain in your achilles tendon the initial treatment is ‘POLICE’ – Protection, Optimal Loading, Ice, Compression and Elevation’.


If you are having pain in the achilles tendon you need to minimize any activity that is causing pain in your achilles region. Proceeding through pain may cause further damage to the tendon. Achilles tendon injuries can range from some mild inflammation to a complete rupture of the tendon. A Chartered Physiotherapist is trained to determine the level of damage caused to the tendon.

Optimal Loading:

Depending on the damage done to the tendon you may need to reduce the loading on the tendon. A complete rupture would require immobilisation with crutches while a mild inflammation may require just rest from the aggravating activity. In the case of mild swelling training may be continued in a reduced capacity as long as it is pain free. Activities such as swimming, cycling and a rehabilitation programme to increase flexibility and strength may be started.

Ice, Compression and Elevation:

Ice in the initial stages of injury should be applied every 4 hours for 10 minute periods, this will help to reduce the inflammation. Compression of the area and elevation of the area above chest height are also proven to increase recovery times.


Your Chartered Physiotherapist will initially carry out a full assessment to determine why the injury occurred. Achilles tendon injuries have a high recurrence rate and determining the cause of injury is vital.

Hands on treatment may then involve; deep tissue massage, dry needling, deep transverse frictions or taping. Once the initial inflammation reduces they will provide you with a comprehensive rehabilitation programme to increase strength and flexibility. Your Chartered Physiotherapist will then guide you back to your previous training levels.


This is general advice, it does not constitute as personal medical advice. As advice from the internet is not always suitable for everyone it should be followed pain free only. For a full assessment and a tailored treatment plan you should consult one of our Chartered Physiotherapists on 045866075 or book online @

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