ABOUT THE ACHILLES TENDON
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The Achilles tendon is possibly the most well-known of all obscure body parts, thanks to a certain Greek warrior who may or may not have existed at all. Its function is necessary for a normal life, and an injury to it can be devastating. There's a reason the Achilles tendon is the strongest tendon in the human body!
- The Achilles tendon serves to attach several muscles in the lower back of the leg (most notably the calf muscles) to the heel bone of the foot. Put simply, the Achilles tendon keeps a person on his or her feet; without it, standing up and certainly moving forward or backward on foot for any distance would be quite impossible.
- For what is basically simply a muscle extension, the Achilles tendon has certainly received more than its fair share of the spotlight over the centuries. It was, of course, the Achilles tendon (or, more properly, the entire heel) that brought the great Greek warrior Achilles to his doom--as the only part of him that was vulnerable. In the 17th century, scientists began referring to the tendon as the "Achilles tendon," after the story of the hero of Troy. This remains the proper medical term for the tendon.
- The Achilles tendon is an extension of three muscles--the plantaris muscle, the gastrocnemius muscle (or calf muscle), and the soleus muscle. It is the strongest tendon in the entire human body. It is also the body's thickest tendon.
- The Achilles tendon itself, on a human adult, is about 5 inches in length. The tendon begins about the middle of the calf, then stretches down to the heel of the foot. It begins broadly, then narrows as it approaches the heel.
- An injury to the Achilles tendon, whether from a simple strain while engaged in sports or a more serious tendon rupture caused, for example, by a knife wound, is serious indeed. It will usually render the victim immobile, practically speaking. Additionally, a serious tendon injury can take a year or even a year-and-a-half to heal.