Achilles Tendon Rupture
An Achilles tendon rupture can be a devastating injury for anyone, but even more so if you’re an athlete. With the advancements in ACL injury rehabilitation and shortened recovery time, some would argue that Achilles tendon ruptures have taken over as one of the worst if not the worst injury for a professional basketball player to suffer.
The Achilles tendon is a strong fibrous cord that connects the muscles in the back of your calf to your calcaneus (heel bone). If you overstretch your Achilles tendon, it can rupture completely or just partially. The Achilles tendon allows you to point your foot downward and push off as you walk. You rely on it every time you walk, run and move in general. Ruptures of the Achilles tendon often occur as a result of a sudden increase in stress on the tendon. In basketball, this can be jumping, landing, or a sudden stop and change of direction.
Treatment varies depending on the severity of the rupture. Non-surgical intervention includes: icing the area, resting tendon (avoid weight bearing by using crutches when walking), NSAIDS, and immobilizing foot/ankle for first few weeks. If the rupture is significant, surgery is necessary. From two weeks to six weeks, the postoperative protocol varies based on surgeon preference. Typically at 6 weeks, full weight bearing is allowed. Physical therapy will be aimed at restoring ankle range of motion and strengthening calf musculature. Although some may be able to return to full activity at 6 months, it may be over 1 year before athlete achieves full recovery. Some risk factors include: Age (30-40 yrs), Gender (up to 5x more likely to occur in men), involvement in certain sports (basketball, soccer, tennis), and being overweight. The good news for all basketball players and programs to consider is that there are ways you can reduce your chances of Achilles injury. Activities such as stretching and strengthening of calf muscles, varying your exercise with high impact and low impact activities, and progression of training intensity slowly to allow the body time to adapt.