The Achilles tendon, running from the heel bone up to the calf muscle, is one of the longest tendons in the body. It gets its name from ancient Greek mythology. The hero Achilles was dipped into the River Styx, which was said to offer the powers of invulnerability, by his mother, and his entire body became invincible. Every part that is, except for his heel, which was held by his mom as she dunked him in the magical water. He grew up to be a legendary warrior, but this small area led to his downfall when he was shot in the ankle with a poisonous arrow during battle.

 

Achilles Injuries

Like Achilles, athletes and especially runners are prone to injuries in this tendon. Achilles tendon injuries can occur when a person increases the intensity or duration of their training, particularly when it comes to running. Also, adding elevation or sprints to a running routine can increase the probability of Achilles tendinitis.

 

Prevention

What can be done to prevent this serious injury? Prevention starts with proper preparation. Simply developing a walking routine for a few minutes before training can help stave off injuries, as this will warm up the calves and ensure blood flow through the legs, which helps prevent calf tightening. A proper warm up is important because tight calves lead to tendon tugging, over-stretching, and even twisting.
 
Along with a pre-run walk, another way to prevent injury is to keep calves strong. Calves need to be able to withstand the pressure that comes with long, intense runs. To strengthen the calves, doctors recommend toe raises. To perform these exercises, athletes should rise on the balls of their feet and slowly lower their heels back to the ground.
 

Treatment

To combat Achilles heel pain, quick and proper action can help the area heal and reduce the chances of an Achilles tendon rupture. At the first feeling of prolonged pain, it is important to wrap the affected area with a compression sleeve to keep swelling down and provide support. Next doctors recommend that sufferers attempt low impact activities while keeping the area iced and elevated. Massage therapy also facilitates blood flow to promote healing.
 
Should symptoms remain, the injured person should see a podiatrist to customize footwear and an exercise routine to help strengthen calf muscles. Also, if symptoms get worse, or if there is a sharp pain in the lower back, it is likely that the tendon has ruptured. Unfortunately, the only effective Achilles tendon rupture treatment is surgery.
 
Whether preventing or treating an Achilles injury, regular visits to a podiatrist will help strengthen lower extremities.