As the World Cup draws ever closer, England will be able to draw upon their most experienced international player. Sunday night saw the global superstar David Beckham suffered a serious rupture to his Achilles tendon while simply jogging with the ball. He was operated on the next day in Finland and will now face many months of rehabilitation.
What is the Achilles tendon?
The Achilles tendon is the strongest tendon in the human body. It can reportedly withstand a ton in weight and measures roughly 10-15cms long depending on each individual. Its primary function is to connect the calf muscles to the back of the heel on the foot.
How can it rupture?
In most cases the Achilles tendon will rupture when landing from a jump, sudden deceleration, dropping of the end of a pavement curve or an awkward fall. However, anyone who has watched the incident involving David Beckham at the weekend will realize that it can be the most simple of actions that can cause a rupture. Beckham's playing diary over the past 2 years has been extremely busy and requires many international journeys for him to keep his commitments to the clubs he plays for. Could fatigue be a reason for his injury?
More and more research seems to suggest that excessive wear and tear on a tendon, in particular the Achilles, can cause a degenerative process causing the tendon to become weaker. This can happen without the patient / player feeling any signs of injury due to the poor nerve supply within tendons. ie Damage can be done without the player being aware of it. Sometimes damage results in Achilles tendonitis, sometimes it simply ruptures. As tendons become weaker, they are unable to withstand the forces they are normally able to cope with. As a result, a simple and familiar movement can cause serious injury.
Obviously age is also an important factor to consider. The more we age the less able are bodies are at healing and recovering from excessive activity. Beckham plays at the top level of international football and has done for over a decade. He will have received the best treatment available and preventive measures would have been taken to help reduce the likelihood of injury. His ruptured Achilles will now make the sports medicine departments re-assess how good their preventive strategies are and whether their players are getting enough rest.
Is There Anything I can Do To Prevent Likelihood of Achilles Rupture?
The rehab for Achilles rupture takes a LONG time. It takes most patients 9 months-1 year to recover back fully to be able to play sport at a high level. Beckham's team are estimating it will take him 5-6 months with intensive rehab. Trust us prevention is far better than the cure. There are 3 easy steps you can take to ensure you keep your Achilles tendon healthy.
It is important to retain as much flexibility in the tendon as possible. With age the elasticity of the tendon decreases. Calf and Achilles stretches are critical in retaining muscles length and elasticity. By the way if you stretch incorrectly, it is a waste of time and will be ineffective. The most common group of people to experience Achilles ruptures are men aged between 35-45yrs old. Most occur with no warning whatever. Get stretching!
2) Sports Massage
The next highly effective preventive step you can take is sports massage. Sports massage helps retain the elasticity of the muscles and tendons, it helps increase the blood flow to the tendon and any areas of scar tissue, infection or swelling can be immediately addressed.
3) Gait Assessment
Many people who rupture their Achilles tendon over pronate. We know problems are caused by excessive wear and tear on the tendon. If you walk or run with too much pronation, you can see the tendon buckling under the strain of each step. Gait analysis can identify problems in your gait that can be easily resolved with a few simple exercises.
Source by Anne-Marie Samuel