Jun 30 2012
Interesting factoids I’ve found online about what ails us:
- The Achilles tendon is one of the most commonly ruptured tendons (it has to cope with far more mechanical loading than most other tendons which may explain the relatively high incidence of Achilles injury)
- Achilles ruptures generally occurs in males between 30-50 years of age, participating in recreational sports (basketball, racket sports)
- 75% of complete tendon ruptures occur during sporting activities that require quick & repetitive movements like jumping & sprinting. (These overexertion activities most commonly occur while playing basketball (US), badminton (Sweden) & soccer (Germany))
- Most ruptures occur 2-6cm above where the tendon inserts into the calcaneus. This is the narrowest portion of the Achilles tendon & is also the area with the poorest blood supply.
- Achilles tendon rupture is five times more likely to occur in men than in women
- Most experts agree that there are no warning signs of an impending rupture
- Fluoroquinolone antibiotics, such as ciprofloxacin (Cipro) or levofloxacin (Levaquin), or steroid use, increase the risk of Achilles tendon rupture
- Each Achilles tendon may be subject to up to 3-12 times a person’s weight during a sprint or push off
- The Achilles tendon is the thickest, strongest, most powerful tendon in the human body & connects the gastrocnemius and soleus to the heel
- Individuals with blood group O have been shown to be at higher risk of tendon rupture
- A complete tear is more common than a partial tear
- Nonsurgical treatment has a higher incidence of re-rupture than surgical repair
- Most studies indicate a better outcome with surgery
- Athletes can expect a faster return to activity with a lower incidence that the injury will happen again
- Physical therapy can expedite recovery time
- Risk of sustaining a rupture of the contralateral (other) side may be as high as 26%
Looking thru this AchillesBlog (Thanks, Dennis), I see many have re-ruptures, either contralateral or same leg. Looks like once you get a rupture, you have greater chances of re-rupture. Not to sound like doom & gloom, but we all know coming back takes time, but it IS there- for some a light at the end of a very far tunnel, for others, just around the corner. One good blog here from Brendan about re-ruptures including some stats he’s found. Another from Tom’s perspective. Both good reads.
So what does this all this tell me- what’s my take-away? The best way to prevent an Achilles tendon injury is to (a) Stay in overall good shape, and (b) warm-up, stretch & strengthen the Achilles. The best way to prevent an Achilles injury from getting worse is to address the injury immediately: it WILL get worse if not addressed. I thought I’d warmed up & done enough stretches specifically for the tendon. Apparently not. But it’s probably been building up in most of us over our years of activity. According to what I’ve read, usually they are the result of many micro tears to the tendon that have happened over time. If you’re not in good physical shape now, don’t overdo it & try to come back all at once. (That’s probably what got many of us here to begin this adventure.) Gradual improvement with sensible strength & flexibility exercises increasing in duration and intensity.
Could I have prevented my re-rupture? Probably not. Can I prevent further re-rupture? Only by God’s grace & watching where I step. Friends have suggested wrapping in bubble wrap to begin my day, but where would be the fun in that? Changing our lifestyle out of fear of re-injury would be to live in fear. Making allowances for our age & other factors we can alter (such as getting in shape), we should welcome with open arms. Change for the better, get in shape (wisely), stay in shape, warm up always, stretch well after warmups, live long & prosper!
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