The Achilles tendon attaches the gastrocnemius, plantaris, and soleus muscles (located on the back of the leg) to the calcaneus (heel) bone. This tendon is what makes it possible for us to push off when we walk or run and rise up on our tippy toes.
Problems associated with the Achilles tendon include Achilles tendinopathy and Achilles tendon ruptures.
The term Achilles tendinopathy references either tendinitis or tendinosis, which can be caused by repetitive movements that overuse the tendon, whether you’re working or working out. And the repetitive movements can cause microtears in the tendon. Symptoms may include intermittent pain, perhaps only when you’re walking or running, mild to severe pain, and reduced range of motion in your ankle.
An Achilles tendon rupture might happen when working out and when quick, hard motions put pressure on the calf muscle. The pain associated with an Achilles tendon rupture may be sharp and sudden and may include a popping sound. If you experience an Achilles tendon rupture, you might not be able to stand on or point your toes.
If you are experiencing prolonged Achilles tendon pain, you should stop exercising and see your doctor so he or she can diagnose your pain. If your pain is mild, your doctor may prescribe rest, pain medication, and exercises. And your doctor may recommend shoe devices that will help minimize pressure on the tendon. If you have a ruptured Achilles tendon, your doctor may recommend a brace, walking boot, or even surgery.