Staying physically active is an important component of your health and wellbeing. Exercise has proven benefits that are almost too numerous to list. Unfortunately, any physical endeavor includes the potential for injury, like an Achilles tendon rupture or other ailment. Ultimately, the pros of exercise outweigh the cons, plus there are preventative measures for injury.
Tendon Rupture and Risk Factors
Your Achilles tendon is responsible for enabling you to push off of your foot with every step you take. An injury may happen when you suddenly increase the amount of stress and force placed upon the connective tissue, though. This can happen due to an increase in physical activity, accidently stepping off a curb, or falling from a height.
Almost anyone can potentially rupture their Achilles tendon, but some individuals are more likely to than others. Some factors that contribute to the level of risk include:
- Gender – Males are five times more likely than females to rupture an Achilles tendon.
- Age – 30 and 40 years old is the peak age range for this particular injury.
- Activity – Achilles tendon injuries are more prevalent in sports that require sudden starts and stops, sprinting, and jumping, such as tennis, soccer, and basketball.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
Whereas it is possible not to experience any symptoms of this injury, most people feel pain, sometimes severe, and have an inability to stand on their toes or bend their feet downward. Swelling may accompany the pain and there might have been a snapping or popping sound at the time of injury.
In most cases, we can diagnose your condition via a physical exam. For this particular injury, we look for tenderness, swelling, and a gap in the tendon that indicates a full rupture. Should we have any question about the extent of your injury, we may have an MRI taken of the tendon.
Treatment Practices and Prevention Measures
Treatment for an Achilles tendon rupture may be handled either with conservative treatment or surgical procedures, depending on a variety of factors. Nonsurgical methods are more like to be used for minor ruptures, older patients who tend to be less physically active, and those who have a medical condition that prevents them from undergoing surgery.
Following both surgery and conservative treatment, physical therapy is useful for strengthening the muscles and improving range of motion for the foot and ankle. This is an important piece of the healing process and will allow you to resume your normal activity level in the shortest amount of time.
When possible, you would much rather bypass the need for treatment and simply prevent an Achilles tendon injury or rupture in the first place. Fortunately, there are a variety of actions you can take to decrease your risk, including:
- Stretching – Loose, limber muscles, especially those in your calves, will make it less likely that you sustain an Achilles tendon injury. Always warm up and stretch thoroughly before beginning your physical activity!
- Variety – Not only is variety “the spice of life,” but it also happens to be an effective way to avoid injury. Mix in low-impact activities—yoga, bicycling, swimming—with running and other high-impact exercise to not only stay safe, but also to provide a more well-rounded fitness.
- Running surfaces – Be picky when it comes to where you choose to run. Avoid running on slippery or hard surfaces or, at the very least, limit your time spent on such terrain.
- Gradual increases – When it comes time for starting a workout program, your best bet is to take it on the easier side of the spectrum at first and slowly progress with regards to intensity, duration, and frequency. A good rule of thumb is to keep your progression to around 10% from the week before.
Contacting the Experts
When you sustain an Achilles tendon rupture, it is essential that you seek help from an expert foot specialist, like the ones you find at Pasco-Hernando Foot & Ankle. We are proud to serve the Spring Hill, Hudson, Bayonet Point, and Jasmine Estates communities. Call us at (352) 683-5799 for our Spring Hill, FL office, (727) 868-2128 for our Hudson office, or use our online form to request an appointment.