The twisted structure of the human Achilles tendon

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2015 Oct;25(5):e497-503. doi: 10.1111/sms.12342. Epub 2014 Dec 30.


The Achilles tendon (AT) consists of fascicles that originate from the medial head of the gastrocnemius (MG), lateral head of the gastrocnemius (LG), and soleus muscle (Sol). These fascicles are reported to have a twisted structure. However, there is no consensus as to the degree of torsion. The purpose of this study was to investigate the twisted structure of the AT at the level of fascicles that originate from the MG, LG, and Sol, and elucidate the morphological characteristics. Gross anatomical study of 60 Japanese cadavers (111 legs) was used. The AT fascicles originated from the MG, LG, and Sol were fused while twisting among themselves. There were three classification types depending on the degree of torsion. Further fine separation of each fascicle revealed MG ran fairly parallel in all types, whereas LG and Sol, particularly of the extreme type, were inserted onto the calcaneal tuberosity with strong torsion. In addition, the sites of Sol torsion were 3-5 cm proximal to the calcaneal insertion of the AT. These findings provide promising basic data to elucidate the functional role of the twisted structure and mechanisms for the occurrence of AT injury and other conditions.

Keywords: Achilles tendinopathy; Japanese cadavers; gastrocnemius; soleus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Achilles Tendon / anatomy & histology*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cadaver
  • Dissection
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / anatomy & histology
  • Sex Factors
  • Torsion, Mechanical