(See also Overview of Sports Injuries Overview of Sports Injuries Sports injuries are common among athletes and other people who participate in sports. Certain injuries that are traditionally considered sports injuries can also occur in people who do not participate... read more .)
Achilles tendinitis is very common in runners. During running, the calf muscles help with the lift-off phase of gait (raising up on the toes from the foot being flat on the ground). Repetitive forces from running combined with insufficient recovery time from exercise can inflame the Achilles tendon.
Pain in the lower calf and back of the heel is usually the first symptom of tendinitis. Pain initially increases when exercise is begun and often lessens as exercise continues. Doctors diagnose Achilles tendinitis based on the symptoms and results of an examination.
Ice and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) relieve pain and inflammation. Refraining from running and from pedaling a bicycle as long as the pain persists is important. Exercises to stretch and strengthen the hamstring muscles can be started as soon as they can be done without pain. Other measures depend on what conditions are causing tendinitis. Measures may include wearing shoes with flexible soles or placing heel lifts in running shoes to reduce tension on the tendon and stabilize the heel. People should return to running gradually, stretch the tendon before running, and, at the beginning, apply ice after running.
A complete tear of the Achilles tendon Achilles Tendon Tears Achilles tendon tears (ruptures) occur when the tendon that attaches the calf muscle to the heel bone tears. The Achilles tendon tears when a movement pushes the toes upward (toward the shin)... read more can occur with a sudden forceful change in direction, such as can occur when running or playing tennis. Sometimes people feel as if they have been kicked behind the ankle, and they sometimes hear a pop. The calf is very painful and walking is difficult, particularly when the tear is complete. The calf may be swollen and bruised. Splinting and sometimes surgery are required.