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Achilles Tendinopathy Rehabilitation: The Crucial Role Hip Strengthening Can Play

Athlete's heel showing inflammation and pain in the Achilles tendon area

By Georgia Zuill – Physiotherapist

Are you suffering from persistent heel pain? Have you tried everything, yet nothing seems to work? You might be missing a key component in Achilles tendinopathy rehabilitation – hip strengthening.

Achilles tendinopathy is a common condition among athletes, characterised by heel pain, stiffness, and swelling in the Achilles tendon area (back of the heel or bottom of the calf). This issue can significantly impact athletic performance and quality of life, especially in sports involving heavy running and jumping such as distance running, marathon running, football, basketball, and volleyball.

The Importance of Hip Strengthening in Achilles Tendinopathy

Traditional treatments for Achilles tendinopathy typically focus on the lower leg and the Achilles tendon itself. However, emerging research highlights the importance of hip muscle strength in effective rehabilitation.

New Evidence on Hip Muscle Strength

Recent studies, such as the one conducted by Habets et al. (2016), reveal a significant link between hip muscle strength and Achilles tendinopathy. This study compared the hip muscle strength of recreational athletes with mid-portion Achilles tendinopathy to that of uninjured individuals. The findings showed substantial weakness in the hip abductors, external rotators, and extensors in those with Achilles tendinopathy, on both the affected and unaffected sides.

This bilateral weakness suggests that Achilles tendinopathy is not only a local issue but also influenced by broader biomechanical factors starting from hip stability. Improving hip muscle strength could therefore play a crucial role in the overall rehabilitation process.

Physiotherapist guiding a patient through hip muscle strengthening exercises with resistance bands

Implications for Physiotherapy

To effectively treat Achilles tendinopathy and prevent future occurrences, physiotherapy should include a focus on hip strength assessment and development. At Saunders Physiotherapy, we utilise Kangatech strength testing technology to identify lower limb strength imbalances and deficits contributing to Achilles tendinopathy. This comprehensive assessment includes hip abduction, adduction, flexion, extension, and external rotation.

Alongside hip strengthening, it is essential to continue localised calf strengthening, especially calf isometrics, to maximise Achilles tendon health. Our experienced physiotherapists will also provide hands-on treatment and massage sessions to manage lower limb muscle tone.

Kangatech strength testing technology measuring a patient's hip strength in a physiotherapy clinic

Book Your Appointment Today

At Saunders Physiotherapy, we offer personalised rehabilitation programs designed to address your specific needs. Our thorough assessments and targeted exercise programs aim to improve your symptoms and reduce the risk of future injuries. Don’t let Achilles tendinopathy hold you back from your full performance.

Book an appointment now with one of our experienced physiotherapists and start your journey towards effective Achilles tendinopathy rehabilitation.

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