In Greek mythology, the mother of hero Achilles dipped him in the river Styx as a baby, making him invulnerable to injury wherever the water touched. His only vulnerable spot was on the back of his heel where his mother held him. The tendon that connects the heel bone and the calf muscle is called the Achilles. It is the largest tendon in the body and can withstand up to 1,000 pounds of force.
Despite its strength, the Achilles tendon is also ruptured more often than any other tendon. It is also vulnerable to inflammation. Chronic inflammation of the Achilles can lead to tendonitis, a condition typically caused by overuse, and not surprisingly, it is very common in athletes, especially runners.
Achilles tendonitis can also be caused by flat feet because the foot is more likely to roll inward, called overpronation. Women who wear high heels frequently are also at greater risk for Achilles tendonitis, because the position of the foot in a high heeled shoe causes the Achilles tendon to shorten over time.
Other causes include wearing ill-fitting footwear or shoes that do not offer enough arch support due to being overweight, sports injuries, car accidents, and medical conditions, such as diabetes, arthritis, or gout.
As a rule, Achilles tendonitis starts gradually. Early symptoms include stiffness and twinges of pain that are usually worse in the morning or when walking after an extended period of time sitting. It is critically important to get treatment on your Achilles at the first symptoms, so it does not become a chronic condition leading to severe pain in later life.
Its location and the fact that the heel gets a relatively lower flow of blood means Achilles tendons can take a long time to heal. So chiropractors stress prevention, such as always stretching before exercising; wearing orthotics, so the foot does not roll either inward or outward, when walking; and using heel cups to help keep the foot in the proper alignment. Chiropractic treatments can realign bones that may be pulling your leg out of alignment.
If you already have an inflamed Achilles, rest it as much as possible, avoid any exercise that puts strain on the area and try to ice your heel at the end of the day or after any type of strenuous exercise. It can take as little as a few weeks or as long as several months to heal Achilles tendonitis, but with diligence and regular chiropractic treatments the condition can be successfully managed.