The Achilles tendon, also known as the calcaneal tendon or the tendo calcaneus, is the tendon of the posterior leg. Its purpose is to attach the plantaris, gastrocnemius (calf) and the soleus muscles to the heel bone. The Achilles tendon is the strongest and thickest tendon in the body. When contracting the calf muscle, it pulls the Achilles tendon which causes the foot to push downward. That contraction helps you stand on your toes, walk, run, and jump.
Achilles tendon injuries can be caused by: overuse, misalignment, improper footwear, medication side effects, and/or accidents. Multiple causes often contribute to the same Achilles tendon injury. The most common Achilles tendon injury is Achilles tendonitis. Achilles tendinitis is inflammation of the Achilles tendon. Some causes of Achilles tendonitis are lack of flexibility and overpronation. Pronation is known as the normal motion on the foot and overpronation is the excessive motion of the foot causing problems like Achilles tendinitis. Another cause can be from a bone spur, which is when an extra bone grows where the Achilles tendon attaches to the heel bone.
There are many symptoms that are associated with Achilles tendonitis, many of which feel like normal everyday problems. The main symptom that many people feel when they believe they have Achilles tendonitis is pain in the heel and it’s typically after periods of inactivity. An example is when you wake up in the morning or getting up after sitting down for long periods of time. Another symptom that people feel is pain along the tendon or heel that gets even worse with the more activity you do. The main noticeable symptom that doctors and people look for is inflammation, or swelling, along the tendon or back of the heel.