How the Achilles Tendon Keeps You Moving

by | Jul 20, 2016 | Heel Pain

One of the nice things about southern California is that there are few times when you can’t be active outdoors. The mild winters and fairly cool summers along the coast mean that nothing can keep you from running or playing sports all year long. Even if the weather cooperates, though, your feet and ankles may not. Let’s take a look at how your Achilles tendon keeps you moving and what can happen when something goes wrong with it.

You’ve felt that thick, ropy cord at the back of your ankle, but you might not understand how it works. You have two calf muscles at the back of your leg that join together about mid-calf to form the Achilles tendon. This connector extends down the back of your leg and inserts into your heel bone. When the calf muscles contract, the tendon lifts your heel. When they relax and the muscles in front of your leg contract, the heel lowers and your foot is pulled up.

These two main actions allow you to move about. With each step, the heel lifts, weight is transferred forward along your foot, and you push off from your toes. Then the front muscles lift the foot as you swing your leg forward for the next step. It’s what makes you able to walk, run, and jump.

This tendon is very strong, and you don’t even think about it as it functions normally each day.  However, it is not invincible. If the Achilles becomes painful, inflamed, or torn, it can really slow you down. Pain and inflammation make you limp and favor the leg, but a complete tear could make it impossible to rise on your toes or even push off normally for each step. You won’t be running then, and making a jump shot in basketball or soaring in the air for a volleyball spike? Forget it!

Fortunately, if you sustain an Achilles tendon injury, Far West Podiatric Medical Group has expert podiatrists who can treat it and help you heal—often without surgery. Conservative treatments such as immobilization, orthotics, night splints, and physical therapy, as well as pain relievers and home care methods, may all be part of your treatment regimen. If a torn Achilles needs surgical attention, we have the training and expertise to do that, too.

Don’t suffer from the pain and limitation of a problem Achilles. Call our office in Hawthorne, CA at (310) 675-0900 and set up a time to come in. A well-healed Achilles will allow you to get back in the game again as strong as ever.

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