The achilles tendon is a strong band of connective tissue which joins your calf muscle to the heel bone, causing ankle movement.
Damage to the tendon can occur by overloading it, which results in tearing of some of its fibres and possibly some irritation of the sheath surrounding it. This in turn is experienced as pain, swelling, and stiffness of the tendon, negatively affecting your ability to walk, run, jump or hop.
You may prevent or reduce the chance of such injury by adopting the following strategies:
Maintain/improve calf flexibility and strength
Gradually increase the duration and intensity of your exercise regime
Always exercise within your fitness level
Wear correct footwear appropriate to the sport/physical activity you are participating in
Avoid wearing high heeled shoes for prolonged periods as this tends to tighten the calf muscle and achilles tendon.
If you do suffer an injury to the tendon then see a physiotherapist as soon as possible for diagnosis and injury management.
The achilles tendon has a poor blood supply which can make recovery from injury a slow process. If left untreated this can become a chronic problem. The exercises described here are designed to improve calf/tendon flexibility and strength to help prevent injury.