Achilles tendinitis is a common condition that can cause significant discomfort and hinder mobility. In this article, we will explore what tendinitis feels like, why your Achilles might hurt, and how to quickly relieve pain associated with Achilles tendinitis. We will also discuss the role of custom orthotics in managing Achilles tendinitis and recommend three over-the-counter options.
What Does Achilles Tendinitis Feel Like (Common Symptoms)?
Tendinitis is an inflammation or irritation of a tendon, a thick fibrous cord that attaches muscle to bone. In Achilles tendinitis, this discomfort is localized in the tendon that connects your calf muscles to your heel bone.
Symptoms typically start as a mild ache in the back of the leg or above the heel after running or other sports activity.
As the condition progresses, the pain can become more severe, particularly after prolonged running, stair climbing, or sprinting.
You might also experience tenderness or stiffness, especially in the morning, which generally improves with mild activity. In some cases, the area may be hot to the touch, swollen, and red.
Why Does My Achilles Hurt (Causes)?
The Achilles tendon is designed to withstand a high degree of stress from daily activities and physical exertion. However, it can become inflamed due to overuse or degeneration.
Some of the common causes include:
- Overuse or sudden increase in activity: This often occurs in athletes who rapidly increase their running intensity or duration without adequate conditioning and stretching.
- Tight or weak calf muscles: Since the Achilles tendon is connected to the calf muscles, excessive tightness or weakness can increase strain on the tendon.
- Improper footwear: Shoes that do not support the arch or allow the heel to move unnaturally can put extra stress on the Achilles tendon.
- Age: As we age, our tendons can become less flexible and more prone to injury.
Common Treatments Recommended by Medical Professionals to Relieve Achilles Tendinitis Pain Fast:
While "fast" is a relative term when it comes to physical healing, there are several strategies that are often recommended to relieve the discomfort of Achilles tendinitis. Please ALWAYS consult with a healthcare provider for a customized treatment plan. Achilles tendonitis can, in some cases, be the beginning of a more serious condition, and ultimately result in a tear of the Achilles tendon if not treated properly:
- Rest and Ice: Avoid activities that aggravate pain and use an ice pack on the area for 15-20 minutes at a time to reduce inflammation.
- Orthotics: Orthotic shoe inserts can relieve strain on the tendon and help align the foot properly. A custom or over the counter orthotic with a heel lift can often provide quick relief of Achilles tendonitis pain.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen can help reduce pain and inflammation.
- Physical Therapy: Specific exercises can strengthen the calf muscles, reducing stress on the Achilles tendon. A physical therapist, podiatrist, or orthopedist can help you decide which stretches and exercises are right for you.
The Role of Orthotics in Relieving Achilles Tendinitis Pain
Orthotics can play a significant role in managing Achilles tendinitis pain. They work by correcting foot alignments and biomechanical imbalances, reducing the strain on the Achilles tendon.
Orthotics can also provide better arch support, distribute pressure more evenly across your foot, and limit excessive motion that might be contributing to your discomfort.
A significant feature of many orthotics aimed at relieving Achilles tendinitis pain is a heel lift.
A heel lift is an elevation in the rear part of the insole. It can be either built into the orthotic itself or added as a separate component. The heel lift works by slightly raising the heel, thereby shortening the Achilles tendon and reducing the strain on it during movement.
Orthotic inserts with a heel lift may be most helpful, and are commonly recommended, in relieving "insertional" Achilles tendonitis. This is a common form of Achilles tendonitis that is present at the back of the heel, where the tendon attaches to the heel bone.
The higher up the leg the Achilles tendon discomfort is, the less likely a heel lift orthotic insert may be helpful. Always ask your physician, podiatrist, or physical therapist if this may be right for you.
It is also imperative to determine that you do not have an Achilles tendon tear with a medical professional.
Top 3 Achilles Tendonitis Shoe Inserts for 2024
🏆 "Our 2024 Top Pick" 🏆
#1- Samurai Insoles Shoguns ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Why are Samurai Insoles Shoguns our top pick for 2024 for Achilles tendinitis pain?
✔️ Design: Samurai Insoles Shoguns are one of the few products on the market that are an ACTUAL ORTHOTIC that is not super rigid. This gives your feet the support they need to comfortably relieve Achilles tendonitis pain.
They also can be worn in nearly ANY shoe with a removable insole, giving you the flexibility of using them in many types of shoes!
And the best part?
Because they aren't an insole made of foam and fabric, they last SO LONG!
There isn't anything to wear out, just put them under the factory insoles of a new pair of shoes and you're good to go.
✔️ Price: At $34.99 these are an absolute steal! Custom orthotics for plantar fasciitis can easily cost more than $500. For less than 1/10 the price, these are nearly as good.
✔️ One Year Warranty: Samurai Insoles Shoguns have a One Year Warranty! No other product in this category even comes CLOSE to our knowledge. Wow!
✔️ Made in the USA: Samurai Insoles are made in an orthotic lab in the USA. The fact that a professionally made orthotic, fabricated in an American orthotic laboratory, can be purchased for under $40 is amazing!
Here is the founder of Samurai Insoles demonstrating Shoguns arch support inserts-
#2- Protalus Insoles T-100 Elite Series
#3- Superfeet Green Insoles
Superfeet have been around a LONG time. They got their start being sold in retail sporting goods stores, and have transitioned to selling online in recent years, but this has presented the company with some challenges.
✔️ Design: If you've checked out the Protalus design, just know that the Superfeet did it first. They were one of the first to incorporate an orthotic plastic layer on the outside of the insole. Once again, this does the job, but it also makes them thicker than the Samurai, reducing the choices of shoes they'll fit well in.
✔️ Price: Superfeet are also in the pricey range, current retail at the time of writing this article is $54.95.
✔️ 60 Day Warranty: Superfeet green insoles come with a 60 day warranty, significantly less than Samurai Insoles Shoguns or Protalus products.
❌ Made in the USA: Superfeet are not made in the USA unfortunately. Once again, for this price we had hoped they would be.
Whichever you choose to fight your Achilles tendonitis pain, choose now!
The longer you allow tendonitis pain to linger, the harder it is to get rid of, and the longer it will take!
We, Samurai Wellness, LLC, are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Samurai Insoles are branded products made by our company, Samurai Wellness, LLC, but we truly believe that our products are the best on the market! It is important to know that our products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.