The Achilles tendon is the tendon that connects the calf muscle to your heel bone. Achilles tendinopathy is an umbrella term that describes a problem with this tendon, but generally this can be either an inflammation (tendinitis) or a structural remodelling problem related to long-term overuse (tendinosis). The inflammatory problem has previously been overdiagnosed as it now appears that a tendinosis is far more common. It is often seen in runners due to the repetitive nature of the sport which can lead to lots of overloading of the tendon and surrounding tissues, particularly if there is not enough rest included as part of the training programme. A thickening of the tendon can often occur which can feel like a small (or sometimes much larger!) lump on the Achilles.
Following diagnosis, treatment tends to involve a specific strengthening and stretching programme along with soft tissue treatment techniques, mobilisations of the ankle and sometimes acupuncture. As it begins to improve, focus will be shifted towards functional re-training as well as identifying any problems that may have predisposed the injury in the first place, such as tight or weak muscles either near the Achilles or further up the leg. The training programme will also be adapted in order to avoid a recurrence in future. This will not necessarily involve a reduction in training quantity but will likely involve some increased variety and should also lead to improved performance. Whether it is elite level sport you want to return to or just get back to doing some jogging, the condition is very treatable and the sooner you get it seen to, the quicker you can get back to your running.