The Achilles Tendon is the largest tendon in the human body, but that is not why we need to know about it. We need to know about it to protect ourselves from various conditions of Achilles tendonitis. The Achilles tendon connects the heel to the calf, and in doing so passes through a narrow passage just above the heel bone that restricts supplies of blood and oxygen to the area. This predisposes the heel to any of the three medical conditions that occur in Achilles Tendonitis. The main function of the Achilles tendon is to connect the heel to the rest of the body, and allow the heel to rise so we can stand, walk and run on our toes. Because of the location and the function of the Achilles tendon, it constitutes one of the pressure points in the body that when stressed or ruptured, causes Achilles tendonitis that can disable an athlete as well as someone who is not fond of physical activity.
RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation, and has been found to be the most effective way of treating Achilles tendonitis, and a one that if applied correctly, has no negative side effects.
Rest or stillness of Achilles heel tendon, will slow down the flow of blood to the tendon, reducing the possibility of further injury.
Ice reduces swelling, bleeding and pain. Apply immediately after the injury. Use a bag of crushed ice, a block of ice, cold packs, a bag of frozen peas, or cold water. Caution: do not apply ice directly to the skin, it can cause an ice burn or skin damage, so use a damp cloth or towel as a wrapper. The duration and frequency of ice application depends on the injury but as a rule of thumb, 15 to 20 minutes of ice every couple of hours will do well in the first 72 hours of injury. Depending on your tolerance for cold, you can also reduce the duration and increase the frequency, for example, 5 minutes two three times an hour.
Compression bandages are effective in reducing swelling and bleeding of the Achilles tendon as well as providing support and protection to Achilles heel, ankle and foot. Use a firm and flexible compression bandage to major part of the foot, ankle and lower leg.
Elevation also helps reduce swelling and bleeding, and requires the injured foot or leg to stay above the level of heart for a period of time.
As the tendon is healing it is very important to massage in a way that aligns the scar tissue for a stronger tendon when healed. Massage will also reduce pain in the area and allow for maximum circulation.