All of your tendons do a lot to keep you mobile. They play the key role of anchoring your muscle to your bone, allowing you to move while keeping you stable and balanced. Clearly, they have their work cut out for them.
That’s particularly true when it comes to your Achilles tendon, the band of tissue that connects your calf muscle to your heel bone. The biggest, strongest tendon in your body, it can withstand roughly 1,000 pounds of pressure. But, as you may have guessed from the legend of Achilles, this tendon can run into problems. In fact, out of any tendon in the lower extremities, this tendon ruptures the most.
To protect your Achilles tendon, you need to be proactive. Our team at Arizona Foot and Ankle Medical Center developed this guide to help. Along with the dedicated Achilles tendon care we offer at our offices in Laveen, Chandler, and Mesa, Arizona, we have some tips and tricks you can use.
Problems your Achilles tendon can have
To understand why it’s important to protect your Achilles tendon, it helps to get a better understanding of the issues this tendon can face.
As the biggest tendon in your body, your Achilles tendon endures continual pressure as you move throughout your day. Overuse — even from walking — can lead to Achilles tendonitis, in which the tendon gets inflamed. Overuse can even lead to Achilles tendinosis, in which the tendon degenerates.
Bad shoes can also play a role. High heels can irritate the bursae — which are fluid-filled sacs that provide cushion — in your heel, which can lead to anterior Achilles tendon bursitis. Similarly, poorly fitting shoes can cause inflammation in the exterior covering of the tendon, a condition that’s called Achilles paratenonitis.
All of these conditions usually cause discomfort, often along the calf or heel. You might feel a knot in the back of your leg or notice bruising. Some people experience swelling or redness or feel like they’ve been kicked in the calf.
You can also rupture your Achilles tendon, which usually feels like a pop followed by severe pain.
In summary, a lot can go wrong. Fortunately, you can take steps to help prevent these issues.
How to protect your Achilles tendon
Our team at Arizona Foot and Ankle Medical Center recommends taking the following steps to avoid problems with your Achilles tendon:
- Stretch your calf muscles
- Mix low-impact exercise in with high-impact exercise
- Do regular calf-strengthening exercises
- Warm up before you dive into high-impact workouts
- Wear properly fitting shoes
- If you feel any tenderness in the area, avoid jumping activities and running up hills
Many Achilles tendon problems stem from excess stress on the tendon. To avoid this, work your way up to exercises, especially high-impact ones. If you want to start running, for example, run for one or two miles for a couple of weeks. Then, gradually add more distance at about 10% per week. This can help give your body time to get stronger and adjust, which, in turn, can help prevent injury.
And, if you start experiencing calf or heel pain, don’t wait to talk with our team. Addressing issues like inflammation early can go a long way toward avoiding a more serious problem. For Achilles tendon care, book an appointment online or over the phone with Arizona Foot and Ankle Medical Center today.