There is usually a pop or a snap that signals an Achilles tendon tear, followed by sometimes severe pain at the back of the ankle and lower leg. The injury makes walking normally impossible and feels as if you have been kicked, hard. Swelling often follows the injury. If the tear is complete, you will not be able to rise up on your toes.
Causes and Risk Factors
An Achilles tendon can tear through overuse, improper footwear, accidents or if it is misaligned. Suddenly changes in speed, such as from walking to running or running up hill or on hard surfaces puts increased strain on the Achilles tendon, which can increase the risk of a tear. The stop-and-start nature of tennis, racquetball and basketball can increase the risk of an Achilles tendon tear. Alternating between high-heeled shoes and running shoes can also strain the tendon and risk a tear.
Staying in good shape and stretching before exercising or participating in sports are excellent ways to avoid tearing an Achilles tendon. Strengthening the calf muscles slowly, without bouncing, can also help decrease the risk of an Achilles tendon tear.