We use the phrase “Achilles heel” in our everyday language to signify “weakness” or “vulnerability” of something or someone. You might hear the phrase used in a sentence such as “I usually avoid eating sweets, but ice cream is my Achilles’ heel.” What is an Achilles heel, though? Our Woodbridge, VA, podiatrist is here to explain where the phrase comes from – and why it shouldn’t be confused with Achilles tendonitis.
Mythical figure Achilles was a superhero of sorts, notes our Woodbridge podiatrist. According to Greek mythology, when Achilles was an infant, his mother (a sea nymph) dipped him into the river Styx so that he would become immortal. Legend has it, however, that since she held Achilles by his heel, this particular spot did not touch the magical waters. Achilles’ heel turned out to be the exact spot where a poisoned arrow would eventually be able to land, causing Achilles’ death.
Although “Achilles heel” is not used as an actual medical term today, for our mythological hero, his heel was the cause of his “downfall,” or death. Eventually, this phrase evolved in the English language to describe a person’s weak spot.
Patients with Achilles tendonitis can experience aching pain up and down the entire Achilles tendon – the largest tendon in the body – that connects the heel to the leg’s calf muscle. This condition typically shows up in patients who do repetitive activities such as running or jumping. With the continuous stress of vigorous physical activity, the Achilles tendon can be prone to injury.
Our podiatrist in Woodbridge, VA, says many patients respond well to conservative treatment for Achilles tendonitis. Our expert team of foot specialists recommend that patients try easing their heel pain by icing the affected area, stretching exercises, specialized orthotic shoe inserts, or substituting an exercise that puts less stress on the feet.
Are you experiencing pain in your heel or ankle area? Our Woodbridge, VA, foot doctor can help! Call our office today for an evaluation from our experienced foot doctor.
The information provided in this article is not meant to be medical advice and is for educational purposes only. If you would like to learn more about heel pain and other topics related to podiatry, feel free to contact The Podiatry Center, with a convenient podiatry office near Woodbridge, VA, by clicking here or by calling 301.656.6055.