The Achilles tendon is the strongest tendon located in the human body. Its purpose is to connect the lower leg muscles and calf to the heel of the foot. This tendon is responsible for making movement such as walking, running, and sprinting possible. Since this tendon provides an enormous amount of mobility to an individual, any injuries inflicted to this tissue should be immediately brought up with a physician to prevent further damage.
The most common injuries that can trouble the Achilles tendon are tendon ruptures and Achilles tendinosis. Achilles tendinosis is the milder of the two injuries and can be recognized by the following symptoms: inflammation, dull to severe pain, an increased flow in the blood of the tendon, portions of the tendon growing in thickness, and a slower movement time. Tendinosis can be treated via several methods and is often diagnosed by an MRI.
An Achilles tendon rupture is trickier to remedy, by far the most painful injury and is brought by the tendon ripping or completely snapping. The results are immediate and absolutely devastating, and will render the patient immobile. If a rupture or tear is involved, operative procedures are available, as well as some non-operative methods. Once the treatment begins, depending on the severity of the injury, recovery time for these types of issues can take up to a year.
Simple preventative measures can be taken as a means to avoid both injuries. Prior to movement, exercising, running, or walking, a few minutes may be taken to stretch out the tendon area by doing warm ups. Calf raises, squats, leg curls, leg extensions, leg raises, lunges, and using the leg press are all suggested ways to help strengthen the lower legs, and will promote Achilles tendon health.
Many problems arise among athletes and people who overexert themselves while exercising or who do not properly warm up before beginning an activity. Proper, comfortable shoes that fit correctly can also decrease tendon injuries. Some professionals also suggest that when exercising you make sure that the floor you are on is cushioned or has a mat, as this will relieve pressure on the heels. As always a healthy diet will also increase tendon health.
It is very important to seek out a podiatrist if you believe you have an injury in the Achilles region as the impact that it can have could cost you your ability to walk around freely.