Can Sports Massage help with Achilles Tendinopathy?

Blog produced by Jason Dodd Clinic Manager, Sports Therapist and member of the Physiotherapy and Musculo-Skeletal Team at Bodylogics The Sports Therapy Clinic.

New research into Achilles Tendinopathy has shown that Massage may be a superior treatment and protocol to an eccentric loading programme. This has caused quite a bit of fuss in the Physiotherapy world as it has long been believed that an eccentric loading programme is the gold standard (most successful treatment programme) for treating Achilles Tendinopathy, However, as new research always emerges in an ever changing medical society and profession, should we be throwing this paper out of the window or is it more a case of embracing new ideas and actually integrating new methods into what is ultimately going to lead to the biggest effect on patient care.

For years, many Physiotherapists the world over have rubbished claims that Sports Massage is effective. As a trained Sports Therapist, who utilises Sports Massage Therapy into many of my treatment plans, I genuinely believe that these soft tissue methods can have a very good effect on the patient in front of me. When it comes to Achilles Tendinopathy, it is very often closely related to tightness/stiffness in the calf area. There is usually a decrease in the ROM of dorsi-flexion and this ultimately puts more force through the Achilles complex and eventually leads to the breakdown and the inflammation that we see. Our previous post here explains exactly what Achilles Tendinopathy is and how we would advise you treat it.

Can Sports Massage help with Achilles Tendinopathy? Bodylogics
Achilles Tendionopathy is associated with pain at the back of the ankle/heel and usually presents itself as pain first thing in the morning which eases and pain when first starting activity but eases once muscle is warm.

Research has shown that massage can have high levels of effect but at the same time there is evidence to show that massage has had no effect on the patient and their symptoms (i am talking here of a wide range of issues, not just localised to the Achilles tendon area). On the flip side I have seen exercise for individuals have excellent effect on symptoms but at the same time I have seen it have catastrophic effect and lead to further breakdown in the athlete. The point here is that we are all truly UNIQUE and INDIVIDUAL. What works for one may not work for the other.

With this latest research they conclude that;

Pressure massage is a useful treatment for Achilles tendinopathy. Compared with eccentric exercise treatment, pressure massage gives similar results. Combining the treatments did not improve the outcome.

Using Pressure Massage for Achilles Tendinopathy: A Single-Blind, Randomized Controlled Trial Comparing a Novel Treatment Versus an Eccentric Exercise Protocol: Stefan H. Stefansson, BSc*Sveinbjörn Brandsson, PhD, Henning Langberg, PhD,

My personal recommendations are that any soft tissue treatment of Achilles Tendinopathy is combined with an eccentric loading programme. The ultimate cause of the inflammation is a lack of capacity to deal with the load being placed on it (usually this is the case, although there can be the exception). The eccentric loading programme will challenge the structure enough to impose changes whilst at the same time ensuring the patient is n control of the exercise and is able to manage accordingly.

How can Bodylogics The Sports Therapy Clinic help?

As a Sports Injury Specialist Clinic we see a large number of people who present with this issue. Some cases are very easy to sort and changes are seen almost immediately, some cases are a little more stubborn and can persist for some time. What you can be sure though is that we will direct you towards the relevant individual who will be best equipped to help you with your symptoms. We have running specialists, football specialists and a department dedicated to Women’s Physiotherapy. Our Sports Therapy and Physiotherapy Departments are well equipped to offer the care and advice you need to get you back to being pain free again.

If you would like to discuss your issues with a member of the Physiotherapy Team or Sports Therapy Team then please call 020 8368 9220 or fill in our contact form here and we will come back to you shortly.

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