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.

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, working in the cardiac rehabilitation program, heart failure service and mental health unit at Nepean Hospital. And at the ACU Exercise and Lifestyle Clinic working with clients with neurological conditions, cancer and chronic musculoskeletal injuries.

Since graduating, Andrea enjoys working with a variety of clients. She has a particular interest in treating musculoskeletal injuries and neurological conditions, striving to help people increase their functional capacity to get them back to work, sport or the things they love doing.