A few weeks ago, superstar NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers went down with a season-ending Achilles tendon rupture within the first four snaps of the 2023 football season. It was a stark reminder for all athletes just how quickly an injury can occur, even for those in the best shape.
Dr. Kelly Geoghan, a respected podiatrist in Lutherville, Maryland, wants to help you do everything you can to avoid extreme injuries so you can remain active and healthy. Achilles tendonitis is a common concern for athletes, and an inflamed or weak tendon could lead to injury.
Here’s our expert advice on how to avoid achilles tendon problems.
Stretch and strengthen
Supple, limber tendons are stronger and better able to absorb shock while you play. The best way to bolster your Achilles tendon is to strengthen and stretch the surrounding muscles.
While warming up, stretch your calf by gently pulling your toes toward your shin. Foam rolling your calf is another great way to loosen the muscles and prevent excess tension from building up in your Achilles tendon.
We also recommend adding calf-strengthening exercises to your training program. This can be as simple as doing seated or standing calf raises. You can add weight as you become more confident and your calves strengthen.
Wear the right shoes
Wearing flimsy, unsupportive footwear or shoes that aren’t designed to handle the unique stresses of your chosen activity leaves your Achilles tendon — and the rest of your body — vulnerable to injury.
Check your shoes today. Are the soles worn? Are there holes and tears? Has it been a year or more since you’ve gotten new shoes? If the answer is yes to any of those questions, it’s time to invest in a new pair.
Whenever you buy activity footwear, make sure the shoes are designed for your sport or activity. For instance, a basketball player shouldn’t wear running shoes — and vice versa.
Athletes who suddenly increase the intensity, frequency, or duration of their workouts also increase their chances of injury.
It’s best to ramp up your training sessions gradually. And never skip your warm-ups. Stretching your muscles — all the way down to your feet — and kick-starting circulation before you work out give your muscles and connective tissues time to prepare for more intense activity and stress.
Consider cross training
If all you do is run and run some more, your Achilles tendon takes a beating day in and day out. Work in a few lower-impact workouts and focus on training other body areas to avoid overtaxing your ankles.
Don’t worry — your performance won’t suffer if you take a break from sport-specific training. In fact, you’ll find that performance improves when you train your whole body.
Listen to your body
Athletes are tough — but being too tough can hurt your game. We strongly advise against playing through Achilles tendon inflammation or pain. You should stop, rest, and see a podiatrist for treatment at the first sign of even a minor injury.
Dr. Geoghan and our team can prevent a minor Achilles tendon problem from turning into a season-ending situation. Doing otherwise is a recipe for a longer recovery and more playing time lost.
If you’d like more information about Achilles tendon injuries and how to avoid them, contact Kelly L. Geoghan, DPM. Call our friendly staff to find an appointment time that works for you, or request a time through our online booking tool.