It goes without saying that playing rugby can be tough on the body, and the feet and lower legs are particularly vulnerable to injuries incurred while playing this rough-and-tumble sport. A condition known as Achilles tendinitis is particularly common in both amateur and professional rugby players and can be both painful and debilitating if the condition isn't properly treated.
What Is Achilles Tendinitis?
The Achilles tendon is one of the most important structures in the foot. This tendon connects the heel bone to the calf muscles in the back of your lower leg and is responsible for providing strength, mobility and stability to the foot as a whole. Unfortunately, repetitive strain and overuse can cause this tendon to become irritated and inflamed, a condition known as Achilles tendinitis.
Running excessively can frequently lead to Achilles tendinitis, especially if you have recently increased the speed or length of your running routine. The tendon can also become irritated if the calf muscles are repeatedly and rapidly contracted. Sprinting to make a tackle and pushing with your lower leg muscles during a scrum both cause these sudden calf muscle contractions, so rugby players are particularly vulnerable to developing Achilles tendinitis.
What Are The Symptoms Of Achilles Tendinitis?
In most cases, the first sign of Achilles tendinitis is a dull, persistent ache in the back and heel of the affected foot or feet. This ache may also be felt in the back of the lower leg. This pain can become more severe over time if the condition is not treated. If the Achilles tendon becomes significantly inflamed, this pain may also occur in the mornings when you wake up, although it usually wears off over time.
Over time, the progressive tendon damage caused by Achilles tendinitis can also lead to stiffness and loss of mobility in the affected foot or feet, and constant pain that becomes worse when you train or engage in other physical activities. The affected parts of the feet may also become visibly swollen.
How Is Achilles Tendinitis Treated?
Advanced Achilles tendinitis can cause permanent loss of strength and mobility in the affected foot or feet, so any rugby player should see a sports podiatrist as soon as they start to notice symptoms of the condition. Unlike regular podiatrists, sports podiatrists specialise in treating foot and lower leg injuries suffered during sports and exercise and can offer tailored treatments to get you back on the field as soon as possible.
If your Achilles tendinitis is not advanced, it can usually be effectively treated using non-invasive methods. Taking time out from training to rest the affected foot or feet can provide real benefits, and your sports podiatrist may recommend ice packs and compression bandages to help control swelling and inflammation. Analgesic medications (especially NSAID medications such as ibuprofen) can effectively manage any pain you feel.
If your condition is more serious, your sports podiatrist can inject corticosteroids into the affected foot or feet, which will reduce pain and speed the healing process while you recover. They can also perform a gait analysis to determine whether an improper running form is worsening your tendinitis. Orthotic shoe inserts, which are crafted individually to match the contours of your feet, can correct gait problems that are causing or worsening your condition.Share
2 June 2021
Hi, my name is Steve and I’m a keen runner. I’ve been running for fun for years. I love the buzz I get from a long run and the fact that my hobby helps keeps me fit. Last year, I started to experience problems with my feet and ankles. It started with just a few twinges and soreness but ended up getting so bad that I couldn’t run to my usual schedule any longer. I couldn’t work out what was going wrong, so a friend recommended I see a podiatrist. I was a bit sceptical at first; however, my podiatrist immediately identified some issues with my running gait and shoes that were causing my problems. I started this blog to pass on some of the advice I got for any other runners who are suddenly suffering from unexplained discomfort. Hope it helps keep you on the road!