The Achilles Tendon

The Achilles tendon is fibrous tissue that connects the heel to the muscles in the calf. The Achilles tendon is the thickest and strongest tendon in the body. The contraction of the calf muscles causes a pull on the Achilles tendon which allows a person to walk, run, jump, and stand on their toes. The Achilles tendon can withstand up to 3-12 times a person’s body weight during a spring or push off.

Achilles tendon strains are caused by numerous factors such as tightness or weakness, bone spurs4, repetitive stress to the tendon, and sudden increases in training as well as many more factors. The most common Achilles tendon injury is Achilles tendinosis, also known as Achilles tendonitis, which is soreness and stiffness with an unknown cause. Achilles tendinosis is a common in runners and occurs in about 10 percent of runners, but the condition also occurs in dancers, gymnasts, and tennis players.

Another common Achilles tendon injury is an Achilles tendon rupture which is a partial or complete tear of the Achilles tendon. A rupture of the Achilles tendon occurs most in sports requiring sudden eccentric stretching especially in middle age athletes who have been doing little to no training. Achilles tendon ruptures commonly occur to otherwise healthy men between the ages of 30 and 50 years who have had no previous injury or problem reported in the affected leg.

When treating Achilles tendinosis, physical therapy treatments consist of muscle strengthening, stretching, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, ice, and finding proper footwear. With an Achilles tendon rupture, treatment consists of immobilization and possible surgical intervention.

If you have any questions regarding injuries relating to the Achilles tendon, please stop by or call your local ApexNetwork Physical Therapy clinic, or visit www.apexnetworkpt.com.

References

1. Everything About Achilles Tendons
http://www.achillestendon.com/
2. http://www.aafp.org/afp/2002/0501/p1805.html
3. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/85024-overview
4. Achilles Tendonitis
http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00147