I remember watching the final scenes of the 2004 epic movie “Troy,” starring Brad Pitt, who played a fierce and relentless warrior in this tale by Homer of love and war in ancient Greece. While all through the movie he narrowly escaped injury and death, in this one particularly intense moment, he is caught off-guard from behind with an arrow through the back of his foot at the top of his heel. I winced in pain. Ouch! That’s going to leave a mark! No doubt, his character sustained the proverbial Achilles tendon rupture, but for the record, I don’t think I ever want an injury to be named after me if that is what I would have to endure to receive such an “honor.”
What exactly is the Achilles tendon? It is a strong, fibrous cord connecting the muscles in the back of your calf to your heel bone. When you overstretch this area, it can tear or rupture. Such a tear can be partial or complete.
When your Achilles tendon ruptures, you might feel a pop or a snap, and if that does not get your attention, the sharp pain you will immediately feel right after that in the back of your ankle and lower leg will alert you to a problem. Most likely, you will not be able to walk properly, and you may feel as if you have been kicked, shot….or, just like Pitt’s unfortunate character, punctured by the sharp tip of an arrow that has pierced your heel going mach one from behind!
In addition to the pain, you may notice swelling near your heel. You may have difficulty in bending your foot downward, and you might not be able to push off the injured foot when you walk. Standing up on your toes on the injured leg will not be possible, either.
If you think you have ruptured your Achilles tendon, please don’t do what our movie hero did and pull the arrow out. You are better off seeking prompt medical attention, especially if you cannot properly walk after the injury.
The Achilles tendon is what allows you to point your foot downward or to rise on your toes and push off of your foot as you walk. It is an integral part of the motion you make every time you move your foot.