The Achilles tendon is a tissue cord on the back of the foot connecting muscles in the calf to the heel bone. Rupture of the Achilles tendon occurs when it is stretched too far, or the individual makes a sudden move. During the rupture, some people hear a popping sound and then feel a sharp pain in the lower leg and back of the ankle. Some people feel no symptoms when they experience an Achilles tendon rupture, while others have severe pain and swelling and may lose the ability to stand on the injured foot, bend the foot down, or push off when walking.
Although anyone can get an Achilles tendon rupture, they happen more often to people who play sports. The intense running, jumping, and sudden starts and stops make athletes more vulnerable. To protect themselves, people who are active in sports should make sure to strengthen and stretch the calf muscle until they feel a noticeable pull. They also should avoid bouncing during stretching, and practice calf-strengthening exercises. Participants in high-impact sports should vary their exercise routines to avoid putting consistent stress on the Achilles tendons. The key is to avoid overusing this muscle and increase training intensity slowly, by no more than ten percent weekly. Any pain should be immediately investigated.
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