Three places to actively look for pain so you can start getting clues in the calf muscles, below the calf muscles, and on the Achilles Tendon itself.
Look for pain in the calf muscles Feel around the calf muscles and see how they feel.
Are they achy? Are they sore? Press around deeper into the muscles.
You will find tight bands and variations in the muscle.
Feel around to get familiar with what's in there, and to get a feel for how things feel.
Are there hot spots? Meaning, are there spots of sharp pain that makes your eyes widen if you press into them? You will find ache and some level of pain.
That's normal for everyone.
Take stock of what you feel.
You are looking for all that plus anything worse than that.
You may or may not be able to feel the difference between normal ache/pain and what we'll call injury pain, but you will get enough information.
Look for pain below the calf muscles Start feeling around beneath and under the calf muscles.
Not on the big tendon that runs from the calves to your heel, but around it and under it.
What does that feel like in there? Feel around from your ankle all the way up to your calves.
Again, you will feel normal ache and pain.
It's good to take stock of what's there, feel how bad it is, and see if anything jumps out at you as being worse than it should be.
Look for pain on the Achilles Tendon itself Feel around directly on the Achilles Tendon.
This tendon is a big strip of tough connective tissue that runs from the bottom of your calves all the way down to where it attaches on your ankle bone.
Press into it, poke it, run your finger along the length of it.
You are looking for a sharp pain, a hot spot(s).
You'll know it if you find it.
Calf Pain If your calves hurt, the issue is more about how much they hurt.
The calves themselves really aren't going to get injured.
They may get sore, then really sore.
They may be so tight that they are essentially in a constant state of spasm, and that hurts.
They may cramp, but that's an entirely different conversation and there's no mystery about it when a cramp hits.
The constant spasm concept is more useful to know.
The key here is whether or not there is pain on the tendon.
It's not going to hurt unless there is a tendonitis issue.
If there is NOT a hot spot on the Achilles Tendon: If there is not painful hot spot(s) on the tendon, then it's most likely just calf pain.
Meaning that your calf muscles are too tight, might have tiny spots of spasm, and for a variety of reasons have an inflammation process happening that basically makes everything more tight and more painful.
If there IS a hotspot on the Achilles Tendon: If you find obvious painful spots on the tendon, that points to tendonosis and tendonitis.
If you have tendonitis, it is to be expected that your calves will be more tender and painful to the touch than they would be without the tendonitis in the area.