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5 Facts About Achilles Tendon Health

By Chris Brown

When building leg muscles for strength, speed, or long-distance endurance, you may miss tending to a small, but incredibly important component of the leg, the Achilles tendon. This tendon is vital for acceleration and can easily become injured from trauma or overuse if not stretched or strengthened. The below Achilles health facts can help you maintain tendon health for increased performance and longevity.

  • Morning heel pain is the starting sign of injury - Waking with an aching heel or Achilles is the first sign of overuse and strain. Ignore these signs and you may end up with a more serious injury that could sideline you for months. Instead, take a few days off intense exercise and support your heel movement with a wrap.
  • Antibiotics and steroid injections increase Achilles rupture risk - Common antibiotics or steroid injections for ankle pain can weaken the Achilles tendon. Some antibiotics even triple the risk of tendon injury in athletes, according to a series of studies from the early 2000s. It is thus another reason to return slowly to activity following an illness.
  • It is a tendon of the gods - The Achilles tendon is named after a half-god of the ancient Greeks. Achilles was a famed warrior who was invincible everywhere but his heels (where the Achilles tendon extends). Unfortunately for Achilles, an arrow struck the heel and he died. A young athlete who ruptures their Achilles tendon may feel similarly like a slain immortal warrior, lamed for months by this small, but important, tendon.
  • Like the half-god Achilles, ruptures primarily affect men - Achilles ruptures disproportionately affect men over women. In fact, men are five times more likely to suffer one. This may have to do with the usually larger male calf muscles and, thus, their higher likelihood of overstraining the weaker tendon.
  • It can be strengthened - Believe it or not, the risk of Achilles injuries can be dramatically reduced by strengthening the tendon with certain exercises and stretches. While tendons themselves don't strengthen in the same way as muscles, their ability to handle strain can be improved (plus the supporting muscles around the tendon become stronger). One such exercise is to stand with the balls of the feet on the edge of a curb (so that your heels are hanging off) and slowly lift the body up and lower it down.

By keeping your Achilles tendon healthy and strong, you can avoid the same fate as the legendary warrior. Don't let a weak Achilles keep you slain and away from the gym or work.

The doctors at The Joint Chiropractic can evaluate your kinesthetic movement and perform joint adjustments to minimize awkward movements which increase Achilles injury risk. Sessions are affordable without insurance and are available anytime for walk-in patients.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Houston, Tex.

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