Achilles Heel

An Achilles Heel is a metaphor often used to describe a person’s weakest point, however it is often not as feeble and delicate as it is made to sound.

What exactly is an Achilles Heel?

Your Achilles Heel is a tough band of tendon that connects your calf muscle to your heel. It is quite thick, and can be seen running up the back of most people’s ankles. You may hear it referred to as the Calcaneal Tendon, and its primary purpose is to allow for movement through your ankle.

Why its reputation if it’s so tough and thick?

The Achilles is the largest tendon in the body, and unfortunately this means damaging it causes a great deal of pain and difficulty in movement – some have described it on a similar level as a gunshot wound! It gets its name from the popular Greek myth of Achilles who’s only vulnerability was his heel.

What kind of injuries are common for Achilles Heel?

Patients who visit us as Progressive Sports and Spinal Physiotherapy usually present with inflammation due to over-use, or post-surgery to repair a tear or rupture. Sports and activities that involve a lot of up-hill, down-hill and excessive running or jumping movements have a greater risk of experiencing issues with their Achilles.

What symptoms should I look for?

The most obvious symptoms for an injury or stress on the Achilles Heel are pain, inflammation and/or difficulty moving. In many cases, taking the time to rest is essential in allowing the body to “do its thing and repair”. The use of ice can support with inflammation and with advice from your GP, anti-inflammatory medication can also be an option. It is important to understand that due to tendons not receiving a large amount of blood flow, that their healing time is significantly longer than your general bruise or pulled muscle. Seeking support from your physiotherapist in this time is crucial in ensuring your body recovers to its full capacity again without incurring further damage.

How can I prevent an Achilles Heel injury?

1. Listen to your body! Pain, discomfort, swelling and difficulty moving are your body’s ways of telling you that something isn’t quite right. It is so important for you to listen to your body and give it the time it needs to recover. Stretching is vital to ensure your calf muscles are able to use your Achilles properly, excessive strain causes tears (and the other type of tears too!).

  1. Focus on technique, and use training sessions to build strength and stretch. Your body will be able to adapt to the demands of whatever sport you do as long as you take the time to train. Minimising time on hard surfaces can also help to lower the force/demand on your body.
  2. Physiotherapy massage, exercises and rehabilitation strategies being added to your regime is only going to improve your strength, technique, endurance and ability to prevent injuries.

Elin, is an alumni of St. Edward’s University and holder of a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology, furthered her academic journey by attaining a Doctor of Physiotherapy from Macquarie University in 2022.

Her passion for sports, particularly football (soccer), is evident in both her academic pursuits and personal endeavors. Specialising in the comprehensive well-being of athletes, Elin focuses on restoring them to peak performance while actively preventing future injuries.

Elin’s professional expertise is centered on musculoskeletal rehabilitation, with a specific emphasis on addressing and preventing knee injuries. Her approach integrates expert treatment with a commitment to educating and empowering patients, fostering their active involvement in enhancing their health and overall quality of life.

As an active participant in NPL football with SD Raiders, Elin brings firsthand experience and a profound understanding of the sport’s demands. Beyond the field, she extends her influence by contributing sports coverage over the weekends.

Christopher (Chris) Han graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor’s Degree in Occupational Therapy, and then completed the Doctor of Physiotherapy program at Macquarie University in 2018. Chris is currently undertaking his PhD at the University of Sydney and Institute for Musculoskeletal Health in the field of low back pain and is due to complete this in early 2024. 

Chris is currently an assistant Physiotherapist for the NRL Referees. Chris has previous experience as the head Physiotherapist at Panthers Premier League Netball and a number of elite sporting athletes in the private setting.

Through Chris’ experiences, he has a particular interest in all areas of the body and musculoskeletal physiotherapy, sports, vestibular rehabilitation, and Men’s Health (pre and post prostate surgery).

Suzanne graduated from Western Sydney University with a Bachelor of Health Science (Sports and Exercise Science) in 2015. She then went on to continue her studies at Macquarie University graduating from the Doctor of Physiotherapy post-graduate degree in June 2019.

Since graduating, Suzanne has worked in the local Penrith area in both private practice and Sports Physiotherapy. Suzanne has worked with sporting teams including Penrith District Netball Association, Mt Druitt Rangers (NPL), Penrith Valley Figure Skating Club, and local dance and cheer schools. 

Suzanne has a particular interest in working with artistic athletes including cheerleaders and dancers. She has a professional background in both cheer and dance and has previously worked as both a cheer coach and dance teacher. Suzanne’s previous experiences are an invaluable resource to her as a physiotherapist, as she has a thorough understanding of the level of physical fitness and skill acquisition that these athletes must have in order to be successful on stage and in competition.

Suzanne’s other areas of clinical interest reside in lower limb musculoskeletal injuries, spinal pathologies and women’s health.

Nathanial graduated as a physiotherapist in 2012 which saw him work in private practice and hospital settings gaining experience in all areas of physiotherapy including hand therapy, splinting/casting, pre/post-operative care, Men’s Health and general musculoskeletal, occupational and sports physiotherapy. Since then he has gone on to complete further studies in physiotherapy enabling him to be the only dual titled Musculoskeletal, Sports and Exercise Physiotherapist in Penrith.

Nathanial has a strong background in sports physiotherapy achieving accreditation with NSWIS as a service provider and working with many elite sports teams.

Nathanial has a particular interest in working with elite athletes, complex cases and in particular assessment and management of knee, hip and shoulder pain.

Andrea graduated from the Australian Catholic University completing her Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science in 2018 and Master’s of Clinical Exercise Physiology in 2020. After graduating she attained accreditation with ESSA as an Exercise Physiologist.

During her studies she gained clinical experience in both hospital and private practice settings, in cardiac rehabilitation, neurological conditions, cancer and chronic musculoskeletal injuries.

Since working at Progressive, Andrea has a specialist interest in treating musculoskeletal injuries, helping people in the mid-late stage of rehab to get them to return to sport or work. As well as helping people manage chronic conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis and diabetes.