Tendons are fibrous connective tissues that attach muscle to bones. As muscles contract, then pull the tendons which in turn moves the bone and helps us to move our limbs.
A tendinopathy is a failed healing response of a tendon. As we load our tendons, they adapt and strengthen under loads. However if they are placed under excessive stress, whether in one episode or more often over a prolonged duration, our tendons can develop a tendinopathy where they became sore and painful.
It is important to define the common term 'tendonitis' that is often used to describe this condition.
The 'itis' in tendonitis' refers to an inflamed tendon and it is thought that this is the cause of the pain.
The latest research would disagree with this assumption and suggests that the tendon is not inflamed, but the pain is as a result of break down in the tendon fibres caused by the repeated microtrauma (a more accurate term to describe the majority of tendon pathology is 'tendinopathy'.
Achilles tendinopathy (pain in the long tendon over the posterior aspect of the ankle) is the most common problem seen in runners and is caused by overloading the tendon too quickly. The best way to manage this problem is to strengthen the calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus muscles) that attach via the achilles tendon into the back of the heel. By strengthening these muscles the stresses on the tendon have been shown to reduce and help prevent, or treat, this painful condition.