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Last updated: 7-28-11


The Achilles’ Heel

by Tom LeBlanc, PT

According to Greek mythology, Thetis sought to give her child, Achilles, immortality by dipping him in the waters of the river Styx. She ultimately failed in her task because the heel by which she held Achilles was not immersed. Achilles’ heel retained its vulnerability, and its mortality.

To this day, any weak point is called an “Achilles’ heel.” The large tendon that connects the calf muscle and the heel bone is called the Achilles’ tendon, or heelcord. This is one of the most vulnerable areas of the body because it can, when injured, prevent you from walking and render you bed-bound for the rest of your life.

When the calf muscle is not properly stretched it tightens, becoming shorter in the process. If the condition becomes severe enough, the patient isn’t able to stand flat-footed on the floor. When they try to stand, anyone so afflicted is at risk for lateral ankle strains. If the problem is extremely severe, they aren’t able to walk If the condition is only mildly severe, they can stand but must lean backward to keep their feet flat on the floor. This can lead to a fall.

Active ankle exercises and passive heelcord stretches help to prevent this condition.

This article may be copied as long as as this information box remains.

Tom LeBlanc PT has been a physical therapist for over 30 years. His experience includes working in all of the above caregiving environments. He is currently developing a FREE teleseminar on Caregiver Secrets. He also hosts Home Entrepreneurs News, a site dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and business seekers find the business that is right for them. One of his “featured Businesses” is detailed in his article, Become a Personal Caregiver.



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