The achilles tendon is a vital tendon in that it connects the calf muscle to the heel. It plays a stabilizing and energizing role in activities such as walking, running, and jumping. If you suddenly increase your level of activity, or you have a problem with your foot strike, you can enflame the tendon and create a condition known as achilles tendonitis. Orthotics and physical therapy can work together to revitalize your tendon and get you ready for your next marathon, hike, or walk around the block.
The Don'ts of Orthotics
An orthotic can be described as any footwear or insert that is tailored to meet the needs of a patient. Some people will recommend using a heel insert to relieve the strain on your tendon. This sounds like a good idea because a shortened range of movement should avoid overextending the tendon. However, the relief you get with a heel insert can be a short-term gain followed by a catastrophic long-term loss. The problem is that using the insert can weaken your achilles because it does not complement the natural function of the achilles, which leaves your tendon prone to tearing; whereas, a good orthotic should optimize the movement of your achilles.
The Dos of Orthotics
Achilles tendons work best when the various components of your foot are in line. Unfortunately, a perfectly inline footfall is not necessarily a natural footfall. Pronation and supination are two common problems that effect your foot. Pronation plagues those who suffer from a weak arch, and, therefore, run on the inside of their foot. Supination refers to those who have an over-developed arch and, thus, run on the outside of their foot. Either condition can put strain on your achilles, and a good set of orthotics should be designed to correct these issues.
The Role of Physical Therapy
Problems, such as pronation and supination, occur when the muscles in your foot are not doing their job properly. A physical therapist will tailor a system of stretches and exercises to improve the function of your muscles so that you may eventually be able to run pain-free and without the need for orthotics.
When you feel the tell-tale flare of pain in your achilles, you may see it as the death knell that marks the end of your running or walking career. This need not be the case. With a properly designed orthotic and a customized physical therapy regimen, you can get your achilles tendon and your exercise back on track.
For professional help with foot problems, contact a company such as Foundation Chiropody foot clinic.