Running puts a lot of strain on your feet and ankles, so it's no wonder that it can lead to injuries of the Achilles tendon. The Achilles tendon is the tendon in the back of your heel that makes it possible for you to push your foot down while you run, and if it's subjected to enough force, it can rupture. Here are three things runners need to know about Achilles ruptures.

How does running lead to Achilles ruptures?

During strenuous exercise like running, your Achilles tendon needs to handle a force equivalent to eight to 10 times your own body weight. If you're not taking adequate rest days in between your workouts, your tendon won't be able to heal from this excessive, repetitive strain.

Hyperpronation can also contribute to Achilles ruptures. If you hyperpronate, your ankles roll inwards when you step down. To find out if you hyperpronate, check the bottoms of your running shoes: if the inside edge of the sole is the most worn out part of the shoe, you hyperpronate.

What are the signs of Achilles ruptures?

If your Achilles tendon ruptures, you'll hear a popping sound when it happens. You won't be able to move your foot normally; people with ruptured Achilles tendons can't stand on their toes or bend their affected foot downwards. The back of your ankle and your heel will also be painful and swollen.

How are Achilles ruptures treated?

Achilles ruptures can be treated non-surgically in people who aren't athletic, but if you want to keep running, you'll need to have surgery. This surgery will be performed in an outpatient clinic, so you'll be able to go home after your surgery instead of being hospitalized.

First, your lower leg will be numbed and you'll be put to sleep. Your surgeon will then make an incision in the back of your leg to access your tendon. Once the tendon is visible, it will be carefully stitched back together. Your incision will then be closed. The procedure is quite simple and typically takes less than one hour.

After your surgery, you'll need to wear a cast to let your tendon heal properly. You won't be able to run (or even walk) during this time, but after about six weeks, you'll be able to start putting weight on the affected foot again. You may need to go to physical therapy once your cast comes off to strengthen the out-of-use muscles and learn how to ease back into running.

Call your local sports medicine specialist to learn more about these injuries and how they are treated.