The achilles tendon is the strongest in the body and it’s diameter is approximately equal to that of your baby finger. Its function is to transmit forces generated by the calf muscles, gastrocnemius and soleus, in order to move the ankle into plantar-flexion. The achilles tendon works strongly during activities such as standing on your toes.
A complete rupture of the achilles tendon can happen during sport with the athlete often hearing a loud snapping sound and feeling like they’ve been kicked in the back of the calf. It usually occurs on beginning to sprint and there is rarely another player involved. The injury is associated with significant pain and an inability to continue to play.
Treatment of the injury, once diagnosed, is either by surgical repair or conservatively with casting in equinus (Toes pointing down). The attached image shows a repaired achilles 6 weeks post surgery. Notice the approximate doubling of diameter of the tendon post-op.
The rehabilitation of this injury takes approximately 6 months before return to sport and focuses on restoring dorsi-flexion and plantar-flexion and regaining calf muscle strength.