Achilles Tendon

October 6, 2023

How much do you know about your Achilles tendon? It is a vital but often overlooked structure in the human body. Named after the Greek hero Achilles, it plays a crucial role in our ability to walk, run, jump, and engage in various physical activities. Today we will talk about the anatomy of the Achilles tendon, its functions, common injuries, strategies for prevention, and effective methods for strengthening it.

The Achilles tendon is the largest and strongest tendon in the human body. It is located at the back of the lower leg, connecting the calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus) to the heel bone (calcaneus). It is composed of mostly collagen tissue, and situated within a synovial sheath that allows it to move smoothly against the surrounding tissues.

The Achilles tendon plays a vital role in lower limb biomechanics, enabling a range of movements and functions:

  • Plantarflexion: The primary function of the Achilles tendon is to facilitate plantarflexion, which is the downward pointing of the foot. This action allows us to push off the ground when walking, running, and jumping.

  • Walking and Running: The Achilles tendon stores and releases energy during the gait cycle. It absorbs energy as the heel strikes the ground and releases it as the foot pushes off, contributing to the efficiency of walking and running.

  • Jumping and Propulsion: In activities like jumping and sprinting, the Achilles tendon is critical for generating explosive force and power.

  • Eccentric Deceleration: The muscles in your calf eccentrically contract when landing from a jump or slowing your forward motion. This means they lengthen while under tension, acting as a natural shock absorber to control and slow down the movement. 

Despite its strength, the Achilles tendon is susceptible to various injuries, with two primary types:

  • Achilles Tendonitis: This is an overuse injury that involves inflammation of the Achilles tendon. It often results from repetitive activities that strain the tendon, such as running or jumping. Symptoms include pain and swelling in the back of the heel.

  • Achilles Tendon Rupture: A rupture occurs when the tendon is partially or completely torn. This injury is often associated with a sudden, forceful movement, such as pushing off during sports or activities. A ruptured Achilles tendon is extremely painful and might require surgical repair.

Strengthening the Achilles tendon and the muscles surrounding it is essential for injury prevention and overall lower limb strength. Here are some effective exercises:

  • Calf Raises
  • Eccentric Heel Drops
  • Resistance Band Exercises
  • Balance and Stability Exercises
  • Isometric Exercises
  • Plyometric Exercises

In conclusion, the Achilles tendon is a critical structure in the human body, facilitating various movements and activities. To keep it healthy and prevent injuries, it's essential to understand its anatomy, practice injury prevention strategies, and engage in regular strengthening exercises. By taking these steps, you can maintain a strong and functional Achilles tendon, allowing you to continue enjoying a physically active lifestyle while reducing the risk of injury.


The Achilles tendon is the largest and strongest tendon in the human body.

Peak Performance Care

in Sonora CA

13949 Mono Way

PO Box 4143

Sonora, CA 95370

(209) 532 1288

Fax: (209) 230 9529

Monday/Wednesday: 8am-5:30pm

Tuesday/Thursday: 6am-5pm

Friday: 6am-2pm