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How do I Prevent Achilles Tendon Tears?

Article Details
  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 29 July 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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Achilles tendon tears, or ruptures, are common injuries among athletes. If an Achilles tendon tears, you will usually feel a snap or pop, which is immediately followed by an intense pain in the lower calf and the back of the ankle. These injuries can be quite debilitating, and they often require surgery to repair. Many professional athletes agree that the best way to prevent Achilles tendon tears is to stretch your calf muscles and Achilles tendons before engaging in a high-impact workout. Investing in the proper footwear can also help prevent these injuries.

To prevent Achilles tendon tears, there are four main stretches that you can learn — the toe stretch, the calf-plantar fascia stretch, the chair calf stretch, and the stair stretch. Many professionals also recommend a warm up period before any stretching or exercise. During this period, it is recommended that you engage in some light exercise. This will help raise your body and muscle temperatures, which help prepare the body for more strenuous activity.

The toe stretch is performed while sitting in a chair. One leg should be stretched straight out in front of you with the back of your heel on the floor. You can then reach down and get ahold of your big toe. Gently pull your toe back towards you until you feel a slight stretching of the calf muscle, and hold this position for roughly 20 seconds. Repeat this stretch four times per leg.

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The calf-plantar fascia stretch is done while sitting on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you. Hook a towel just under your toes, and gently pull back on your foot. Hold this position for 10 to 30 seconds and repeat five times per leg.

To perform the chair calf stretch, you will need to be standing behind a chair with a back, such as an average dining room chair. Using the chair for balance, step back with one leg, keeping it straight, press your heel into the floor, and turn your toes somewhat inward. While slightly bending the opposite leg, lean forward. Hold this position for about 20 to 30 seconds and repeat with the other leg.

For the stair stretch, you will need to stand with the toes or balls of your feet on the edge of a bottom stair and your heels hanging off. While holding onto something for balance, like a wall or banister, slowly let your heels hang down until you feel your calves and Achilles tendons stretch slightly. It is important not to bounce while doing this stretch, as it could inadvertently cause more harm than good. Repeat this stretch four times for roughly 20 seconds each time.

Proper athletic shoes can also help prevent Achilles tendon tears. They should fit well and have the proper amount of height and cushioning in the heels. Inadequate cushioning can cause your heel to sink lower than the balls of your feet, putting too much strain on the Achilles tendon, possibly resulting in an injury.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, too much cushioning or height in the heel is considered to be just as bad. When the heel of the foot is raised too much above the ball of the foot for a prolonged period of time, the Achilles tendon can become shorter than it is supposed to be. This can result in Achilles tendon tears in the future.

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