Achilles Tendon Injuries

Definition: The Achilles tendon is the thickest and strongest tendon in the body. It is fibrous tissue that attaches the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles (calf muscles) to the calcaneus bone behind the ankle. The Achilles tendon can receive a tremendous load stress: 3.9 times body weight when walking and 7.7 times body weight when running.

Injuries: The most common injuries to the Achilles tendon are Achilles tendonosis and Achilles tendon rupture. Achilles tendonosis is an overuse condition of the tendon, characterized by stiffness and soreness, usually the lower one third of the tendon close to the heel. It comes on gradually and continues to worsen until treated. It is usually worse when getting out of bed in the morning, or after sitting long periods. Achilles tendonosis is a common injury with middle or long distance runners. Partial and full Achilles tendon ruptures are most likely to occur in sports that require sudden eccentric stretching(stretching while loaded), such as sprinting and raquet sports.

Treatment: Treatment for Achilles tendonosis includes rest, ice (in acute stage), physiotherapy with strength training exercises, and deep tissue massage therapy for the calf muscles. Supportive footwear should be considered for preventing, rehabilitation from, and prevention of reoccurrence of an Achilles tendon injury.

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