Symptoms and Causes
The Achilles is the large tendon connecting the two major calf muscles, the gastrocnemius and soleus, to the back of the heel bone.
Under too much stress, the tendon tightens and is forced to work too hard. This causes it to become inflamed (that's Achilles tendinitis), and, over time, can produce a covering of scar tissue, which is less flexible than the tendon. If the inflamed Achilles continues to be stressed, it can tear or rupture.
Symptoms of Achilles tendinitis
Achilles tendinitis is characterized by dull or sharp pain anywhere along the back of the tendon, but usually close to the heel. Other signs you might have Achilles tendinitis include limited ankle flexibility, redness or heat over the painful area, a nodule (a lumpy buildup of scar tissue) that can be felt on the tendon, or a cracking sound (scar tissue rubbing against the tendon) when the ankle moves.
Causes of Achilles tendinitis
Tight or fatigued calf muscles, which transfer too much of the burden of running to the Achilles, can be brought on by not stretching the calves properly, increasing mileage too quickly or simply overtraining. Excessive hill running or speedwork, both of which stress the Achilles more than other types of running, can also cause tendinitis. Inflexible running shoes, which force the Achilles to twist, cause some cases. Runners who overpronate (their feet rotate too far inward on impact) are most susceptible to Achilles tendinitis.
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