Avoid Achilles pain with these tips

Last Modified: 9/24/2021


This post was written by Candice Dunkin, MS, LAT, ATC, manager, Athletic Training, Parkview Sports Medicine.

The events of 2020 had a lot of athletes and weekend warriors sidelined. Now that things are picking back up, we’re seeing an uptick in Achilles injuries. Let’s take a closer look at this tendon and what you can do to stay out of trouble.

Achilles tendinitis

The Achilles tendon is a fibrous band that joins the calf muscle to the heel bone. While there are several injuries that can occur to the Achilles, the most common injury is Achilles tendinitis. 

Symptoms of Achilles tendinitis include pain on the back of the leg above the heel after running or other activities. There may also be stiffness and/or tenderness in the morning, which typically improves throughout the day. This condition is most common in runners who are increasing their mileage or intensity of training, or in middle-aged people who play sports (like tennis, basketball or pickleball) with infrequent duration (weekend tournaments or pick-up games).

Most tendinitis will resolve with stretching, icing and limiting activities that cause increased soreness. If symptoms do not improve when you limit activities, you should schedule an appointment with your primary care provider to discuss further intervention.

Achilles tendon rupture

A more significant injury is an Achilles tendon rupture, which is a complete tear of the Achilles. Most people describe this as feeling like they’ve been hit in the back of the leg and they immediately lose the ability to push the foot down. This is a similar sensation to drop foot. 

An Achilles tendon rupture will require a trip to the emergency room or urgent care clinic and a surgical intervention will most likely be necessary to return to regular activity.

To avoid an Achilles injury, you should gradually increase your activity levels and keep that activity constant. Proper stretching before and after activity is always recommended. And, as always, be sure to consult with a physician before beginning any exercise regimen.


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