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Health Tips / Achilles Tendon

Diagnosis and Symptons

The Achilles tendon is a thick band of tissue that attaches the muscles of the calf to the heel bone. Its primary function is to allow the foot to extend, and it enables the athlete to push off of the foot when walking, running or sprinting. Achilles tendonitis is caused by a force on the tendon greater than its own strength such as running up and down hills which will put an additional strain on the tendon.

Achilles tendon injuries can range from a mild tendonitis or inflammation to severing of the tendon. The most common causes are repetitive stress from overuse and/or poor stretching. They can also be caused by increased stress on the tendon due to hyperpronation, (greater than normal inward movement of the foot). Sudden changes of direction may place the tendon under increased stress and lead to injury. Repeated activity on an inflamed tendon may lead to further damage or rupture.

Achilles tendon injuries are common in sports which involve a lot of jumping, sprinting. or kicking. The site of injury is normally the point of least blood supply.


Symptoms normally include inflammation and pain and limitation or inability to move the foot especially in raising the heel off the ground. In more severe cases of tendon rupture there may be a sensation of a sharp blow to the calf, followed by pain and swelling.

Preventative measures

Preventative measures include proper warm-up and stretching routine and strengthening of the muscles, ligaments and tendons around the calf, ankle and foot. If your medical professional advises a return to activity following injury, it is important to wear protective strapping or an ankle support until the injury is healed. Heel lifts are sometimes recommended.
Be aware of any pain in the achilles tendon and make sure to treat any sign of tendonitis with RICE: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. A change of footwear or orthotic insoles may be beneficial.


For serious injury always consult your doctor or physiotherapist. 
To find a Chartered Physiotherapist in your area check

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Last update: 16/05/2013 12:38 • Previous update: 30/11/-0001 00:00