Anatomy of the Achilles
Your leg muscles are the most powerful group of muscles in your entire body! Muscles are connected to bone by tendons. These tendons are made up of fibers of protein-rich connective tissues called collagen. Tendons are packed with essential tissues and fibers to help you perform to your full ability, so keeping your tendon strong and healthy will benefit your whole body!
Tissues in your Achilles Tendon release a thin lubricating liquid (synovial fluid) that helps the tendon glide smoothly while in motion. Unlike most tendons, the Achilles does not have a true tendon sheath so lubrication comes directly from the inner tissues. Typically tendon sheaths are a special membranes which helps lubricate and protect the tendon while also providing cellular nutrition. Without this membrane, the Achilles Tendon is more likely to injury than other tendons.
Function of the Achilles Tendon
With every step we take, our Achilles tendons carry our entire body weight so it makes sense that the Achilles tendon is the thickest, strongest and most powerful tendon in the body. Allowing you to walk, run, jump, or stand on your toes. These movements occur when the calf muscles contract and the Achilles tendon is pulled upwards. When the tendon is pulled upwards the foot is pushed downward and the heel lifts due to flexion of the subtalar, or talocalcaneal, joint.
Additional force is placed on the Achilles tendon when you sprint, widen your stride, walk on unlevel or rough terrain, or push off for a jump - up to 12 times our own body weight.
Anatomy of the Achilles Tendon
The Achilles tendon, also known as the calcaneal tendon, is a white fibrous cord located at the back of the ankle. Essential in the flexion of the subtalar joint (also known as the talocalcaneal joint) in the ankle which exists between the calcaneus (heel bone) and the talus bone. Contracting your calf muscles forces the tendon to lift your heel. By flexing your calf or leg muscles, your Achilles is activated and your foot pushes down. This is how you are able to create movements such as walking, running, and jumping. If your Achilles Tendon is injured, everyday movements like walking, jumping and even standing can become painful or maybe even impossible to do!
Tendons connect muscle tissue to bone. The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus muscles) and to the heel bone(calcaneus).
Heel bones can very in shape and size from person to person. An irregular shape heel (calcaneus) can cause the Achilles tendon to twist or a smaller heel bone will put additional stress on Achilles tendon.
Achilles Tendon - What is it Made From?
The Achilles tendon is made up of strands of protein called collagen that run parallel to each other and are bundled closely together within the Achilles tendon. The smallest collagen component is called a collagen fibril or tenocyte. These small strands are bundled together within a collagen fiber. Several collagen fibers are bound together and make up the next layer within the tendon called the fascicle. The fascicle, combined with the subfascicles, form 3 different levels of collagen. These levels are referred to as the primary, secondary and tertiary fiber bundles.
The endotenon surrounds the fascicle to stabilize and bind them together within the Achilles tendon. The endotenon are then bound together by the final layer of the tendon, called the peritendon, which is made up of 3 layers as well. The epitenon is the interior layer, closest to the endotenons which contains the vascular, lymphatic, and nerve supply.
Next is the mesotenon which is filled with a thin, lubricating fluid that allows for the Achilles tendon to glide when the gastrocenemius and soleus muscles in the calf contract.
The paratenon is the outer layer binding all of the Achilles tendon together and is part of the deep fascia that runs throughout your entire body. Unlike other tendons in the body, the Achilles tendon does not have a true synovial sheath covering it, rather it is surrounded by this loose outer covering of fatty tissue.
Although tendons contain blood vessels and nerves, compared to other parts of the body the Achilles tendons have a very poor supply of blood. They receive the least amount of blood between 3/4" and 2 1/2" above where the Achilles tendon attaches to the calcaneus heel bone making this area the weakest part of the Achilles tendon and the slowest area to heal.
Stress on the Achilles
With each step, your Achilles tendon supports the weight of your entire body. Depending on your speed, the length between your steps, and the ground beneath you, your Achilles could be supporting 3-12x the force of your body weight! In a study of the functional anatomy of the Achilles tendon, participants experienced 12.5x the force of their body weight exerted on their Achilles Tendon while running! That means that your tendon has to be able to support extreme amounts of pressure on a daily basis!
In order for your Achilles Tendon to perform the task you need it to, it must be strong and healthy. Nourishment for your tendon is provided by good circulation of your blood. Blood for your Achilles is provided by two arteries. These arteries pump blood through the calf muscles and the bone interfaces which transfers blood to your tendon. Unfortunately, this means that only PART of your tendon is receiving steady, consistent blood flow. The circulation where the Achilles meets the heel bone is very weak. Blood supply to the area in your tendon 3/4-2/12" above the Achilles-Heel connection has the lowest blood supply.
Bursae are sacs that are lined with synovial tissue. These sacs provide cushioning between tissue and bone where needed throughout the body. There are 2 bursae located near the insertion of the Achilles tendon at the heel bone, the retrocalcaneal bursa and subcutaneous calcaneal bursa.
The retrocalcaneal bursa lies between the Achilles tendon and the back, surface of the heel bone (calcaneus). This is a "true" bursa that is present from birth.
The larger subcutaneous calcaneal bursa lies overtop of the tendon at the lower part of the heel where the Achilles tendon joins to the heel bone. This bursa develops as you age (called an "adventitious" bursa) to protect the tendon from friction that can damage soft tissue.
Healing the Achilles Tendon
The heel of the foot is a small area with a lot going on, the Achilles tendon attachment, the bursa sac (lubricates the joint), the plantar fascia ligament (under your foot) and the fat pad under the heel.
All can become irritated, this can be the challenge to heal the tendon and could lead to chronic Achilles conditions. Your damaged tendon fibers can harden (become calcified). This extra calcium can gather where the Achilles tendon is under stress resulting in a bone spur.
If your Achilles tendon is injured and you continue to stretch and strain it, tough and inflexible scar tissue will replace the Achilles tendon's normally elastic fibrous tissue. The unhealthy tissue now in place hurts during exercise, is more likely to further injury, and can become a constant pain even while you walk. An Achilles tendon injury or tendonitis (also spelled tendinitis) that is left untreated can become a chronic condition that is extremely difficult to cure. So, if your Achilles is injured, it's important to treat it and heal as fast as possible.
Unfortunately, an Achilles tendon is dense and fibrous with limited blood vessels which does not allow for ample blood flow. As a result, the Achilles tendon heals slowly by nature.
However, the trick to treating any tendon injury is getting it to heal quickly, with minimal scar tissue formation, and with as much proper realignment of the tendon fibers as possible. By healing your Achilles tendon tissue faster and more completely, you maintain more elasticity in the fibers. A more elastic tendon is less prone to further pain and injury than a tight, unhealthy tendon that is held together with scar tissue.
Reducing inflammation and getting pain relief
Your doctor has given have conservative treatments before even suggesting surgery. It is generally understood by doctors and surgeons, that surgery will introduce more scar tissue into the any already damaged tissue. This added scar tissue will be problematic, requiring more physical therapy and conservative treatment options post-surgery. If not dealt with properly, your Achilles tenosynovitis injury could end up in worse condition than before the surgery! This is why surgery is only performed as a last resort.
Some conservative treatment methods recommended include:
- Rest - This is important for initial healing is resting your ankle.This can be difficult when you have to carry on with daily activities, but resting and elevating your foot whenever you can is recommended. During your recovery you will probably have to modify or avoid the activities that put stress on your Achilles tendon until your pain and inflammation settles.
- Avoid Activities that Caused Your Injury - While resting your injury it's also important to avoid all activities that may have caused your tissue damage (especially any repetitive movement). Continuing on with regular activities will not only make your injury worse.
- Apply Effective Cold Compression
Effective Cold Compression = Treatment with a Freezie Wrap® Immediate cold (using a Freezie Wrap®) will help you to manage pain while getting rid of the pain and inflammation. Reducing inflammation can also relieve some of the pressure that's being placed on your tissue(s) and stop your injury from getting worse.
- Use Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™ - After any inflammation and/or swelling has been reduced, you can use your own blood flow to maximize healing of damaged tissue and maintain healthy blood flow to your tissue. This also boost overall long-term healing of this injury.
The 1st step for conservative treatment of your injury when treating conservatively or even after surgery is to reduce swelling to "open up" the area for more blood flow. Anyone in the health-care business knows that your blood supplies the oxygen and much needed nutrients required for your body to heal naturally after surgery. This is why doctors and surgeons recommend cold compression therapy within the first 72 hours of an injury and following surgery.
Cold compression therapy is recommended to reduce pain, swelling and tissue damage. Many doctors, surgeons and physical therapists consider cold compression therapy to be the gold standard for treatment of inflammation and pain. On-going cold compression treatments can reduce, or even eliminate, the need for NSAIDs or other medications that can be harmful to your body.
Cold compression therapy is known and trusted by most medical professionals. This is why for years doctors, trainers and other medical professionals have recommended RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) to treat the pain and swelling of fresh injuries, chronic pain, after any re-injury, and especially after surgery.
Although RICE can help to treat these symptoms, ice and inferior gel packs reach temperatures so low they can cause cryoburn, an ice burn on your skin. The problem is, up until now there hasn't been any other option to treat painful conditions and injuries with effective cold compression, so ice and blue gel packs (full of antifreeze and chemicals) have been the only choice up until now.
Fortunately you no longer have to settle for these ice cold methods that are uncomfortably cold against your skin, provide short term relief, cause ice burns, and numb your skin and underlying tissue beyond feeling so you don't even notice the ice burn until it's too late. You can also get rid of those cold packs that warm up soon after you pull them out of the freezer and gel that pools around your injury putting the short-term cold everywhere except for where you need it most - on your injury!
The Freezie Wrap® is the cold compression tool you need for your post-surgical recovery to treat yourself in an effective and convenient way.
When used on any soft tissue injury, our Freezie Wraps® provide:
- The highest-level of cold compression to quickly decrease pain, swelling, inflammation and draw the heat out of your injury.
- A tailored wrap that conforms perfectly around your injury site.
- Effective cold compression that's unlike any other cold compression wrap out there.
- Cold temperatures that stay right over your injury for the entire length of your treatment.
- A home-based solution with consistent (daily) cold treatments that reduces swelling fast, decreases tissue damage after injury or surgery, and opens up the vessels in and around your injury to receive the blood flow circulation needed to heal quickly and naturally.
- Heavier, more substantial gel packs containing a special formulation of gel - called RigiGel®.
RigiGel® is our trademarked name for a unique gel formula that's made out of food-grade, non-toxic material which holds the cold for an extended period of time. This specially formulated gel also features non-migrating gel technology that makes our Freezie Wrap® truly different from any other wrap available on the market.
RigiGel® is a patented formula that gives you:
- More cooling power per pound of gel than standard cold compression wraps.
- More gel than other wraps, meaning every time you put one on it will keep your injury cold for a longer period; pain relief is enhanced and swelling is better controlled.
Our special RigiGel® packs can be chilled in the fridge or freezer to tailor the amount of cold that you need for your injury. It doesn't matter how you cool it down, because our gel packs are chock full of gel that's designed to cool down into millions of tiny snowflakes. This method of cooling means our gel packs aren't icy-cold, just perfectly cold enough to give you the most effective cold compression available.
The cushioned gel will wrap around your injury and it won't budge for the entire treatment period. You'll no longer have to deal with annoying pooling around your injury or have to hold a hard block of ice on your injury!
Effective Cold Compression Therapy slows nerve and cell function - reducing the swelling that blocks blood vessels from doing their job.
This is important because once blood vessels are blocked or damaged, they can no longer carry oxygenated blood through the tissue and tissue cells begin to break-down. Without cold compression therapy cellular break-down and tissue damage continues as the cells don't get the oxygen they need to survive. By limiting the amount of damage done to your tissue, you also limit the amount of healing that needs to occur. This is a very important step to heal injuries faster and with less pain! This is why you need to treat your injury as soon as possible, when you notice pain / swelling / inflammation, directly after a re-injury or surgery. Applying a Freezie Wrap® right away will stop the damage immediately and unblock your blood vessels to let your body's natural blood flow in to start healing the tissue.
The Freezie Wrap® = Effective Cold Compression Therapy
It'll seem weird for you to read this, but there are a LOT of people out there that don't understand how fast cold compression with Freezie Wrap® can get the swelling / inflammation in your injury under control! After you get rid of the swelling for good you can start actually dealing with your injury and the healing needed.
Use a Cold Compression Freezie Wrap®:
- 24 to 72 hours after your initial injury or when you first notice pain and swelling around your injured area to stop cellular damage, relieve pain, and decrease swelling.
- After exercise, workouts or activity of any kind to prevent re-injury.
- Before and after surgery during rehabilitation to control pre and post-surgery pain and swelling.
- Anytime you feel your injury is making your injury feel tender, painful or you're having a flare-up of an old injury.
- Anytime you have swelling, sharp throbbing pain or inflammation.
- Any other situation where you need to draw the pain and inflammation out of your tissue.
The Importance of Good Circulation
Your body has the ability to heal itself! Blood is your body's natural medication, healing, nourishing, and cleansing system. Oxygen rich blood cells feed tissues, bones, organs and all other structures in the body to keep them healthy. Without proper blood flow, your Achilles tendon can become weak and easily injured. Blood helps to whisk away toxins in your body. Without proper blood flow, infections can develop and your body will not be able to begin healing effectively.
Exercise is important to keep blood flowing, but as you probably know, getting the right amount of exercise every day can be a challenge! And what about when you're at work, resting after a long day, or spending time with your family? Our Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™ (Inferno Wrap®) products offer the most effective treatment to help your body increase circulation to your Achilles Tendon! An Ankle/Achilles Inferno Wrap® will provide you with the targeted blood flow stimulation that your body needs.
If you spend hours on your feet, enjoy recreational activities, exercise regularly, or participate in athletics, you need to give your body proper care and attention. Why risk having to limit or give up your favorite weekend activity, your exercise routine, or even your job due to an injury? Use the Achilles Freezie Wrap® to minimize damage from swelling and inflammation; once the swelling has subsided, boost your body's own healing rate with the Achilles Inferno Wrap®.
There are a lot of people that think their injury is gone after their swelling and inflammation are gone and their injury feels better. They also make the mistake of returning to regular activities too soon without proper time for healing. The truth is that healing takes time and after the swelling is gone your injury isn't even close to being fully healed.
After the inflammation in and around your tissue has been reduced, providing extra blood flow and strengthening the tissue in and around your injury is recommended. Believe it or not, the best time for you to focus on avoiding re-injury and strengthening the weakened tissue is when the swelling's gone and your tissue has started to heal. It's vital that you don't go back to activities too soon because you might bring on a major setback in your recovery...
- Have you recently re-injured yourself by returning to your normal daily activities too quickly?
- How many times in the past have you aggravated yourself just trying to perform basic tasks around your house?
- Is your injury preventing you from work or activities you love to do?
If this sounds like you - You're not alone...
Most people we deal with tell us these scenarios have happened to them many times in the past. The real challenge is how to promote blood flow to your injury site without causing further damage. This goal is even more complicated by the fact that you have to use your injury site for almost everything in everyday life.
What can you do to actually start healing yourself?
The answer is simple. Your body can heal itself and it's the blood in your body that makes it all happen. Your blood is how everything that's good inside of you is transported directly to your injured tissue. Your blood carries oxygen, nutrients, water and antibodies right to the source of your injury and pain. Bringing proper blood flow to your injured tissue is essential for healing.
Promoting blood flow around injured tissue to help the body heal itself is a concept that's been used for centuries. Oxygen and nutrients, carried in your own blood, are critical for the body to heal itself. Without proper blood flow, recovering from your injury will be delayed... Sometimes for a very long period of time.
Even though the concept is simple, improving blood flow to your tissue can be difficult, when an injury occurs. Traditional methods require you to move your sore/stiff injury site in order to promote blood flow. This same motion that promotes blood flow can also make your pain and injury much worse. Relying on movement alone to increase blood flow puts you in danger of re-injuring yourself.
So what do you do when you need to increase blood flow, but you can't move your without re-injuring your tissue?
This is where the Inferno Wrap® and Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™ (BFST®) come in!
Using Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™ (BFST®), will help with your recovery and heal your tissue more completely. BFST® increases the amount of blood that flows naturally to your soft tissue to nourish your tissue, improving elasticity and speeding the healing process. This increased Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™ to your damaged tissue is greatly needed to complete your healing and avoid re-injury once and for all.
The only way to get BFST® is through use of a Inferno Wrap®.
The Inferno Wrap® is the only treatment method that improves blood flow and circulation on a deep tissue level. Other methods of warming / heating tissue (hot water bottles, hot baths, etc) will only ever increase blood flow on a surface / skin level. These methods need a LOT of time to even reach your damaged tendon on a deep tissue level. And even if you were to use them this long your skin would heat up to an uncomfortable level and it may even burn you.
The best source of heat treatment is from a product where you don't even feel that much heat. When you don't feel the heat, it means the therapy is working in your deep soft tissue which is really where you need it. It's kind of like how your heart works in your body. You can't "feel" your heart pumping blood all around your body to your arms and legs. You can't even hear your own heartbeat without listening very closely. This is exactly how deep tissue BFST® works too!
You're not supposed to "feel" a lot of heat because the heat isn't treating your skin, it's treating your tissue, increasing the blood flow right where your injury is!
- When treating any soft tissue injury, an effective therapy will increase blood flow to the injury while your injury site is immobile.
- This increase in blood flow will accelerate the body's own ability to heal itself.
- The Inferno Wrap® is the most highly effective blood flow stimulation device that you'll find on the market that is approved by the FDA for use in the home or hospital.
Regular treatments with a Inferno Wrap® can reduce pain and stiffness from scar tissue and increase overall flexibility in your tissue. Increased blood flow will whisk away damaged tissue, toxins, and any bacteria in or around your injured tissue to promote more effective healing. Getting rid of toxins will allow all of the positive healing processes to start in your injury. Increasing blood flow will also increase the amount of oxygen that's being sent to your injured tissue AND boost your tissue's ability to absorb oxygen. (reference: 1)
How Does the Inferno Wrap® Promote BFST®?
Every Inferno Wrap® contains a patented Energy Pad that's flexible and shaped to conform around your injury site. The Energy Pad provides a uniform wave of healing electromagnetic energy over the entire treatment area. This energy travels deep inside your soft tissue to stimulate blood flow on the deep tissue level where it's needed to heal your injury. It's the electromagnetic energy provided provided by our Inferno Wraps® that's crucial to the healing process.
Electromagnetic energy is the only way to get your blood flow moving on a deep tissue level for these reasons:
- Electromagnetic energy waves are not heat waves.
- When emitted from the Inferno Wrap®, electromagnetic energy waves penetrate right through your skin and fat layers until they get to your damaged tissue.
- Once these energy waves reach your injured tissue(s), they're absorbed and quickly converted into heat energy right at the location of your injury.
- The idea of electromagnetic energy waves is slowly catching on in North American, but the truth is, it's a technology that's been used for decades.
Many people just don't know that over the past 30 years, researchers in Japan and China have completed extensive studies on the usoe of electromagnetic energy for healing and their findings have been impressive. Success has been reported in studies from countries like Sweden and Germany. Research is continuing and soon, much of North American will know what the Far East and Europe has known for a long time...
Electromagnetic energy provides a wide range of health benefits for many other soft tissue injuries.
Regular treatment with the electromagnetic energy in our Inferno Wraps® will ensure:
- Your pain will be reduced.
- Your injured tissue will heal at an accelerated rate with reduced potential for re-injury.
- Your knee will have a larger range of motion and increased extensibility of collagen tissue in your joint and around your meniscus. (Chapter 9 of "Therapeutic Heat and Cold", 4th edition. (amazon.com link - Ed. Justus F. Lehmann, M.D., Williams, and Wilkin)
Electromagnetic Energy = Increased Blood Flow = More Oxygen, More Nutrients and Less Toxins = Faster Healing
Our Inferno Wraps® are uniquely patented designs that are better than other alternatives out there for more than just the electromagnetic energy they provide! Our wraps are made from medical-grade material - this should be as important to you as it is to us. Other products that are sold in stores are considered "consumer goods" meaning the material only needs to be as good as a sweater that you wear. Clothing articles like this don't need to meet high standards of production or materials and may include materials that irritate your skin.
Since our wraps are medical-grade products registered with the FDA, they are of a higher quality and need to meet way more standards for manufacturing (ISO 10993 - biocompatibility testing). This makes our wraps the safest product to increase blood flow circulation.
Our manufacturer has spent years perfecting the wrap design to make sure you get the treatment you deserve!
Use A BFST® Inferno Wrap®:
- After swelling and inflammation have been reduced with cold compression.
- Before exercise or workouts to warm up your injury site to prevent re-injury.
- Before and after surgery, during rehabilitation, to warm up before physical therapy exercising or stretching.
- Anytime you feel your tissue has stiffened up, is tight and your mobility is reduced causing you more pain.
- Anytime you have sore or aching tissue in and around your injury site.
- Any other situation where you need to increase blood flow to your tissue to relax your soft tissue, relieve pain, prevent re-injury and enhance flexibility of your tissue.
Strengthening and support
Your legs support an intense amount of weight every day! In order to handle the pressures put on them, you must keep your muscles and tendons strong. The Knee-Flex® Passive Knee Stretch Device was designed specifically to increase strength and flexibility of your leg with smooth controlled movements. You can start out small and increase at your own, slow but safe pace. Minimize your chance of re-injury and decrease your time spent in pain and discomfort - talk with your physician about whether incorporating these products into your therapy is the right choice for you!
Your full recovery depends on your commitment to stretching and strengthening exercises. Your physical therapist will develop an effective program during your clinic visits for your recovery. But ask any therapist, the key to a successful recovery is commitment to at home exercise! Many physical therapists in Canada are already using this amazing technology to help their patients recover. Now YOU can access the Knee-Flex® Passive Knee Stretch Device to use in the comfort of your own home! Don't settle for minimal treatments when the best products are ready and waiting for you! If you want to get back on your feet with fast, effective, and safe home therapy treatment, speak to your doctor or therapist about incorporating the Ankle/Achilles Inferno Wrap® and Knee-Flex® Passive Knee Stretch Device into your training, recovery, and every day maintenance of your legs, ankles, and feet.
The good news is, reducing scar tissue and healing faster is possible with the combination of Freezie Wrap® cold compression therapy, and Inferno Wrap® Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™! Even with optimum healing, there is always less elasticity in a previously injured tendon compared to an Achilles tendon that has never been injured. However, it's crucial that you heal your Achilles injury the best you can. That way, your chance of a further injury and chronic pain is significantly reduced.
The Knee-Flex® Passive Knee Stretch Device, Inferno Wrap® and Freezie Wrap® are FDA Registered Medical Devices and are suitable for repetitive, industrial usage in hospitals and therapeutic clinics. This devices are deemed safe for use at home as well as in the clinic.
Prevention and Promotion of Lifelong Health
If you want to avoid re-injury, or manage pain and increase circulation for lifelong health benefits, a Ankle/Achilles Freezie Wrap® and Ankle/Achilles Inferno Wrap®, will provide exceptional results. Why spend time in pain, off from work, and missing out on your active lifestyle when you can be proactive about your injury and the health of your body? Talk to your doctor about incorporating a regular routine of using a Ankle/Achilles Freezie Wrap® and Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™ into your everyday health regimen.
Call one of our AidMyAchilles Advisers at no cost or obligation to address any lingering questions you have about using heat or cold for your hip injury - toll free 1-866-237-9608
Learn More About SUPERIOR Achilles Tendon Treatments
Learn more about how the Ankle/Achilles Freezie Wrap® is designed to be the most effective cold compression wrap on the market today.
Learn more about how the Ankle/Achilles Inferno Wrap® helps with the healing process.