“Weekend warrior”?

When I ruptured my achilles, I googled (of course) and discovered that this usually happened to ‘weekend warriors’. I found this depressing - is that what I was? Should I stop flinging myself around at the weekends and walk along sedately?

But thinking about this more, I’ve got a theory. To get a tendon rupture you need to have some sort of tendon degeneration gene or whatever. Not everyone has one - maybe it’s a fairly low percentage of the population. And then the rupture happens if:

1) you are older (say than 30) - though I know sometimes they can happen to younger people too, I think all else being equal they get more likely as you get older.

2) you do a lot of sport (of particular kinds). And (here’s the controversial bit!) I think the more sport you do, the more likely you are to rupture.

Now statistically, of all the sporty people who are older than 30, only a very small proportion will be professional atheletes. So all the other ones have jobs - and so inevitably they will do most of their sport at the weekend. That totally accounts for why achilles tendons are usually seen in ‘weekend warriors’. It’s not because you are more likely to get one if you are a weekend warrior than if you are a professional athelete - it’s just that there are an awful lot more sporty people who are not professional (aka weekend warriors) than professional atheletes.

So what I take from all this (if it’s right) is that there should be no stigma attached to an ATR. It doesn’t show that you were trying to do too much, without being fit enough. The image ‘weekend warrior’ conjures up - of someone unfit who suddenly decides to show the kids how it’s done - is the wrong image. Lots of people on these boards sound really properly fit. And I (though no superwoman) have been running regularly pretty faithfully for nearly 20 years, and doing pilates and weight bearing besides. I am light, I can do (correction: could do) handstands… surely I didn’t get this ATR because I just wasn’t fit enough?

3 Responses to ““Weekend warrior”?”

  1. Snafu, I personally don’t think or feel that there’s any stigma attached to ATRs. They happen to both professional athletes and the rest of us (including weekend warriors). By definition, an ATR does mean that you were doing too much, such that the Achilles couldn’t handle the force applied. But, I agree it doesn’t mean you weren’t fit (enough). And, there could be some tendon degeneration in play, but not always. I also think it’s a normal part of ATR recovery to question how and why this happened to you–to seek to avoid it ever happening again–but I don’t ever think the right response is to stop doing things that you love and keep you fit. So, my (unsolicited) advice is to just ignore the “weekend warrior” moniker if that’s not you. Happy healing! -David

  2. I don’t really buy it when they say that. There have been tons of college and professional football players with achilles tears just in the past year. To name a few, Jamal Turner on Nebraska, Turner Sirk of Duke University, Jonathan Gray of Univ of Tex, Robert Mathis on Indianapolis Colts, Michael Crabtree of San Francisco 49ers, Vick Ballard of Indianapolis Colts. And there are many more just recently in football alone. A few of them are this year and the season just begun.

    Guessing these guys are in just fine shape.

  3. Snafu, I agree 100%! Most of us tore our AT with lots of help from strong fit calf muscles! By design, the tendon in every one of our bodies’ muscle-tendon pairs should be stronger than the muscle, or else we’d be tearing tendons all the time. For some reason, our ATs got weaker than our calves. Exercise should strengthen them both, age or inactivity should weaken them both, but things sometimes get out of sync. We know some drugs (like Cipro) make it happen, but we don’t know the other reasons. But it definitely happens to the active and fit more than the sedentary and unfit!

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