Achilles Tendon: Definition and What it is

Medically and clinically reviewed by Jonathan Lee, MD and Dylan Peterson, PT, DPT

Achilles Tendon Definition and Meaning

The Achilles tendon is a type of fibrous connective tissue that connects the muscles in the back of your calf to your heel bone. It is one of the largest and strongest tendons in the human body. 

The Achilles tendon is responsible for pointing your foot and pushing off the ground when walking, climbing stairs, running, and jumping. As you land, your Achilles tendon controls your foot and absorbs some of the impact. It also helps provide bursts of power, like when you play sports that call for quick reaction times (think pickleball, tennis, basketball).

Common Achilles Tendon Injuries and Conditions

Any tendon in the body has the potential to get overworked, and the Achilles tendon is no exception. It does a lot to support your body weight and can sometimes get injured. Common Achilles tendon injuries include tendinitis (when the tendon becomes irritated), tendinosis (in which the tendon changes over time, leading to more persistent inflammation); and bursitis (when fluid-filled sacs near the tendon become inflamed). Less commonly, the Achilles tendon can rupture, which is often accompanied by a noticeable pop or snap. 

In most cases, an Achilles tendon injury results in pain, tenderness or irritation along the tendon or back of the heel, and swelling.

Achilles Tendon Injuries: A Hinge Health Perspective

Learning about conditions that cause foot and heel pain can be alarming. We know from Hinge Health members and research studies that anatomical labels like these can backfire when it comes to your treatment and recovery. When people hear they may have a condition like Achilles tendinitis or bursitis, for example, it can cause feelings of panic, like you have something "wrong" with your foot that needs to be fixed. This way of thinking about pain is largely outdated. There’s a lot you can do to ease the pain and start feeling better — and that usually starts with moving more. 

If you’re reluctant to move because you think you’ll cause more damage or injury, know this: Movement is good for the Achilles tendon. As our Hinge Health care team says, movement is medicine. You want your Achilles tendon, along with the muscles, ligaments, and other structures that support it, to remain flexible and mobile to prevent tightness that can lead to pain. In order to do that, you need to engage in exercises that support and strengthen your Achilles tendon, especially your calf muscles. A physical therapist can also work with you on a strengthening and stretching plan. 

You can see a physical therapist in person or use a program like Hinge Health to access a PT via telehealth/video visit.

How Hinge Health Can Help You 

If you have joint or muscle pain that makes it hard to move, you can get the relief you’ve been looking for with Hinge Health’s online exercise therapy program.

The best part: You don’t have to leave your home because our program is digital. That means you can easily get the care you need through our app, when and where it works for you. 

Through our program, you’ll have access to therapeutic exercises and stretches for your condition. 

Additionally, you’ll have a personal care team to guide, support, and tailor our program to you. See if you qualify for Hinge Health and confirm free coverage through your employer or benefit plan here.

This article and its contents are provided for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice or professional services specific to you or your medical condition.


  1. Bordoni, B., & Varacallo, M. April 1, 2023. Anatomy, Tendons. National Library of Medicine; StatPearls Publishing. 

  2. Achilles Tendon Injuries. (n.d.). Johns Hopkins Medicine. Retrieved from

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