top of page
Search

The Achilles Tendon is Key! | Find Your Stride | Edinburgh Podiatrist

The human Achilles tendon, named after the mythical Greek hero Achilles, is a vital component of the lower leg that plays a crucial role in the biomechanics of running and jumping. This fibrous band of tissue connects the calf muscles to the heel bone and is responsible for transmitting the forces generated by the muscles to the bones, allowing for movement of the ankle joint. The Achilles tendon is the largest and strongest tendon in the human body and is essential for the proper functioning of the leg and foot.


Understanding its movements during running and the significance of regular strengthening in injury prevention is paramount for athletes and individuals engaging in physical activity.

When it comes to running, the Achilles tendon is under immense stress and strain. As the foot strikes the ground and the muscles get to work, the Achilles tendon stretches and recoils to propel the body forward. The tendon is subjected to high loads, reaching up to eight times body weight during running. This repetitive loading and impact on the Achilles tendon can lead to overuse injuries if the tendon is not properly conditioned and strengthened. These types of injuries are typically caused by excessive or sudden increases in training intensity, improper footwear, or biomechanical issues.


Runner taking on a hill
Hill training puts a lot of strain on the achilles tendon

It is important to emphasise that the Achilles tendon is fundamental to the mechanics of running and is therefore susceptible to injuries if not maintained properly. Regular strengthening exercises targeted at the Achilles tendon are essential for injury prevention and overall performance. By incorporating specific exercises that promote tendon strength and flexibility, individuals can reduce the risk of developing Achilles tendinopathy and other related injuries.


Strengthening the Achilles tendon involves a combination of eccentric and concentric exercises to improve its resilience and adaptability to the demands of running. Eccentric exercises, in particular, are crucial for eccentrically loading the tendon, as it undergoes lengthening while contracting. These exercises include calf raises on an inclined surface, heel drops, and eccentric squats. By eccentrically loading the Achilles tendon, individuals can promote collagen synthesis, increase tendon stiffness, and enhance its ability to withstand the repetitive forces experienced during running. Additionally, concentric exercises such as calf raises and resisted ankle dorsiflexion can also improve the strength and power of the calf muscles, indirectly supporting the Achilles tendon. Lastly, incorporating regular stretching and mobility exercises for the calf muscles and Achilles tendon is also essential for maintaining flexibility, because a lack of this can contribute to tendon injuries.


In conclusion, the human Achilles tendon plays a critical role in the biomechanics of running and is susceptible to injuries if not properly conditioned and strengthened. Understanding its movements during running and the importance of regular strengthening in injury prevention is imperative for athletes and individuals engaging in physical activity. By incorporating specific exercises that promote resilience and flexibility of the tendon, individuals can reduce the risk of developing Achilles tendinopathy and other related injuries, ultimately improving their running performance and overall lower extremity health.


Find Your Stride!

2 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page