Don’t Try To Be A Greek Hero Over Achilles Tendonitis

Posted by Julie Malady on 5/4/2012

According to Greek mythology, the Greek hero  Achilles’  mother dipped him in the River Styx  as a baby to make him immortal.   As an adult, he was mortally wounded in battle from an arrow to… the heel- which is where she held onto him as an infant to dip him into the river.

The Achilles tendon was named after Achilles.  This tendon connects the calf muscles at the back of the lower leg to the heel bone.  It is the strongest, most powerful tendon in the body.

The tendon transmits energy from the muscles to the joints and bones.  Any movement made-  such as running, standing up on toes, walking, sprinting - flexes the calf muscles (the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles) and makes them contract.  This pulls the Achilles tendon upward.  The tendon is a white fibrous cord, like an elastic band.  If it gets injured,  scar tissue begins to  replace the elasticity of the fibers.

Factors that contribute to the onset of Achilles tendon injury are –

-Rapid increase in the speed of a running regimen -Intense hill or stair running –Jumps, sudden starts and stops -Exercising without warming up- Having flat arches that put strain on the tendon and that are not supported by the proper shoes

Pain develops gradually and worsens over time.  The pain becomes more severe after sprinting or stair climbing, after partaking in sports activities.  You can actually hear a crackling sound when you touch or move the tendon.

Treat with- ice, heel pads, anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen, cold compression therapy, ultrasound therapy, and blood-flow stimulation therapy. (The Achilles tendon is one of the slowest to heal due to improper blood flow to the tendon and slow re-generation of cells.) It is best to consult a health care professional early on for quick recovery.