The most important muscle of the lower leg is called m. triceps surae we all know as „calf“. It stretches through the back side of the calf and is responsible for plantar flexion of the foot (moving the foot downwards, e.g. standing on your toes). M. triceps surae consists of three muscles, two m. solei and m. gastrocnemius. In their lower parts muscles connect with the tendons and the heel bone. This tendon tissue is also called Achilles tendon.
Achilles tendon is very strong and is about 1.5cm thick. It transfers the power of calf muscles to the heel and endures in extreme stress. When jumping, forces that apply to the tendon are as much as 15 times bigger than the bodyweight. With long distance running, forces are as big as 1000 tons. This is why tendons get overworked and irritated. Problems with Achilles tendon are one of the most common issues for runners these days. A lot of them think that pain in the calf has something to do with long periods of training or difficult races, and it’s true that pain usually needs no treatment.
But when these micro traumas accumulate, the injury becomes chronic.
…micro trauma + training + micro trauma + training…. = C H R O N I C I N F L A M M A T I O N
Inflammatory stage (which many people experience) has several symptoms:
- pain in the calf is the first sign of inflammatory process, usually experienced while running or walking.
- morning rigidity in the calf and pain when relying on the leg
- hardness of tendon felt by palpation
It’s interesting how sometimes it’s difficult to take a break and let the injury heal, so we continue training despite the pain and thus risk long periods of recovery. Frequent inflammations and micro traumas leave scars on the tendons and they become thicker. This leads to inelasticity and proneness to injury, which leaves SURGERY as only way out. So judge for yourself whether it’s smart to ignore the inflammation of Achilles tendon and signals our body is sending us, and to keep training no matter what.