The Achilles tendon is a vital part of your body that enables proper leg mobility and function. This tendon is named after the Greek mythological hero, Achilles, who had it as a week spot. To this day the Achilles tendon is an easily-injured part of the body. In this article we will show you how to tape your Achilles Tendon.
The Achilles tendon is made up of strong tissue fibers. Its function is to ensure the proper connection of the calf muscles to the heel bone. The strength of the Achilles tendon supplies springiness to the area above your heel by allowing you to push your toes downwards. Since the Achilles tendon is frequently used during walking or sports activities, injuries are very common.
To help you know more about how you can tape your Achilles tendon, whether in case of emergency or for proper recovery, here are a few details you need to consider.
What is the Achilles tendon?
The proper name of the Achilles tendon is the calcaneal tendon. Made from tough fibrous tissue, it is where the calf muscles join together and insert into the heel bone, while a small sac of fluid called the bursae helps to protect and cushion the tendon within the heel.
The Achilles tendon is both the strongest and the largest tendon in the body, thanks to the naturally robust fibers from which it is made. The strength of the Achilles tendon is crucial, since it has to carry a lot of your body weight, especially as the calf muscles contract, while the tendon also pulls on your heel to help maintain balance and footing.
The Achilles tendon allows you to stand on your toes. It stores a lot of energy each time you walk, run, or jump. The stronger your Achilles tendon, the more capable you are of jumping higher and running faster. The tendon also stores a lot of force each time you climb stairs, cycle, swim, or undertake various other types of physical activity.
Despite its large size and inherent strength, the Achilles tendon is not resistant to damage or injury. Because it is used daily – even for routine activities – it is very susceptible to injuries such as tendonitis, tears, or ruptures. This is why daily exercises to ensure that the tendons are properly conditioned and maintained are very important, especially as we grow older.
What are the Common Causes of Injury to the Achilles Tendon?
You don’t have to be an athlete to sustain an injury to the Achilles tendon. It can happen to anyone at any time. This is especially true for individuals whose muscles have begun to weaken from overuse. A lack of proper maintenance, or simply age, can also make the tendon susceptible to injury.
An injury to the Achilles tendon is often characterized by pain and the inability to move your foot properly. Injuries to this tendon can range from mild, to moderate, to severe. Depending on the amount of damage sustained, you may find it very hard to put pressure on an injured foot.
Mild to moderate pain in the area may be caused by minor damage to the Achilles tendon. Minor damage can also be characterized by stiffness in the area above the heel. A complete tear or rupture, on the other hand, may cause a severe burning sensation. In most cases, the main culprits for Achilles tendon injury are quick foot movements and sudden pivots or twists. Some of the sports activities that increase your risk of suffering Achilles tendon injuries include the following:
■Running activities or games that involve sudden stops or quick sprints
■ Most contact sports
Who has a Higher Risk of Getting Injured?
It is important to remember, however, that Achilles tendon injuries are not confined to sports and other rigorous activities.e. As mentioned earlier, injuries to this vital part of the body can happen when you least expect it, due to daily overuse. Certain types of people may run a higher risk of developing injuries to their Achilles tendon, including the following:
■ People who typically suffer from tight calves
■ People who frequently use high heels
■Those who have fallen foot arches
■ People who have had muscle or tendon problems in the past
■Those who are long-term glucocorticoid users
■ People who are long-term users of floroquinolone antibiotics
What are the Common Types of Achilles Tendon Injuries?
There are two types of injuries that can affect your Achilles tendon. The first and most common of these is tendonitis. Tendonitis occurs when the Achilles tendon becomes swollen, irritated, or inflamed, while it can be separated into one of the following two forms:
This is when the damage occurs in the area where the tendon enters the heel bone. This type of tendonitis can happen even to non-active individuals, and is typically associated with the development of bone spurs.
Common among individuals who are active in the previously mentioned sports activities, this type of tendonitis occurs when there are minor tears in the tissues found in the middle portion of the tendon.
The second type of injury that can affect your Achilles tendon is a rupture, when the tendon is either totally or partially torn. Most individuals who have suffered from this type of injury say that they heard a “pop” from the heel or calf area before the pain started to develop.
Of course, an immediate medical response is required as soon as any form of injury to the Achilles tendon occurs. It is important to know the signs and symptoms of an Achilles tendon injury, so that you will know when to seek first aid or medical help. Aside from mild or severe pain, here are some of the signs and symptoms to look out for:
■Delayed pain, potentially as late as the day after your exercise
■ Difficulties in flexing the foot properly
■Thickening of the tendon area
■ Stiffness around your lower leg or at the back of your foot
■The presence of bone spurs in the heel area
■ Swelling or inflammation of the heel or lower calf
■The onset of pain resulting from being active or moving a lo
How to Tape Your Achilles Tendon, A Step-by-Step Guide
When it comes to treating tendonitis or a tendon rupture, your first response should be to utilize RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation). As soon as the swelling begins to subside, you will need to allow the tendon to heal properly. This is when you will have to tape your Achilles tendon.
When taping your Achilles tendon, it is important to focus on making sure that the entire tendon is secured correctly. In order to do this, you will have to limit your foot’s movement, preventing it from flexing upwards or downwards. The best way to do this is to tape your Achilles tendon using sports tape, following these steps:
Use a protective foam tape. This will provide a layer of comfort for your skin. Start by taping the foam tape around the middle of your calf, slowly wrapping the entire calf downwards, and overlapping half of the tape previously wrapped as you go down. Make sure that you wrap an area six to eight inches wide, from the middle of your calf moving down towards your heel.
The next step requires you to make three anchors using a self-adhering compression wrap. This will allow you to get traction later on as you use more tape to secure your heel in place. The self-adhering compression wrap will also allow you to stabilize your calf muscle and prevent it from pulling on your Achilles tendon.
Start from the top of the protective foam tape and pass the compression wrap once around your calf. Cut off the excess and let the wrap adhere firmly to itself to give your calf some compression. Repeat this step two more times, wrapping the calf area a total of three times. Make sure that each subsequent wrapping overlaps the previous one by 50% for better pressure and anchorage.
Using more self-adhering compression wrap, tape the middle portion of the already-taped area of your calf once more, creating a third layer. This third layer will be known as anchor point A and will help to secure the calf further by providing additional compression.
Use the same tape to create a second anchor point in the middle of your foot. This will be known as anchor point B. Starting from the top of your foot, pass the tape once around and cut off the excess tape. To provide better stability to your Achilles tendon for a longer period of time, it is best to use a non-slip, sweat and water-resistant tape for this step.
Cut 2 long strips of the tape used for anchor point B. These strips must be long enough to run from the heel of your foot to the middle of your calf muscle, plus an additional 2-3 inches. Cut a vertical slit in the tape at either end of both strips.
Attach one end of the strip under anchor point B, which should be located in the middle of your foot. Pull the rest of the strip towards the heel, adding a bit of tension as you pull it backward. Using the slit you made earlier, allow the two ends to clasp around your calf and stick to anchor point A. Both ends of the slit should intersect securely on the top of your shin. Repeat the same procedure for the second strip, making sure that the heel is pulled backward firmly using a bit of tension.
Using more self-adhering compression wrap, secure all of the anchors (as well as the two strips that are pulling the heel backward) in place. To do this, use the tape on the top of the wrapped area on your calf. Wrap the tape around the calf going down towards the heel, making sure that it overlaps 50% each time for more strength. You should also wrap the ankle area and the heel, ensuring that the two strips are covered. Cut off the excess tape and allow the wrap to adhere to itself.
When it comes to protecting your Achilles tendon from injury, you should consider stretching before any physical activity, as well as wearing the appropriate footwear. As a precautionary measure,consider keeping self-adhering compression wraps with you,, so that you can secure your Achilles tendon right away should the need arise.
Since this tendon has a high daily workload and because it can be subjected to significant strain and pressure during rigorous activities, it is always at risk of injury. In order to avoid injuries such as tendonitis, or even worse, rupture, you need to know how the Achilles tendon functions and how it can be damaged. You should also be aware of the signs and symptoms of Achilles tendon injury in order to take the necessary steps for its recovery as early as possible. Knowing how to tape your Achilles tendon properly is a vital part of a speedy and effective healing process.