What Every Athlete Should Know About Their Achilles Tendon

Whether you’re an elite athlete or a weekend warrior looking to get some extra exercise, injuries are almost an inevitability, especially when it comes to vulnerable parts of your anatomy like your Achilles tendon.

Unfortunately, many athletes from both ends of the athletic spectrum don’t understand the basics of this crucial tendon and ultimately suffer the consequences of injury. 

When you want to do everything possible to protect your body from injury and keep playing the sport you love, you need the guidance and care only a podiatry expert like Dr. Kelly Geoghan can give. 

She specializes in diagnosing and treating Achilles tendon injuries and knows just how important a healthy Achilles tendon is to your success in your sport. She’s sharing her best information to help keep you off the bench and in the game. 

Here’s what every athlete should know about their Achilles tendon. 

Your Achilles tendon is crucial to your game

Your Achilles tendon is far from the largest or strongest structure in your body, but it performs a very important job. It’s a tough band of connective tissue that runs the length of your lower leg and connects your calf muscle to your heel. 

The Achilles tendon also helps you perform other functions like pointing your toes, walking and running, and raising your heel off the ground, which are movements that are crucial to virtually every sport. 

Athletes are among the most at risk for injury

There are a few risk factors that contribute to your risk of sustaining an Achilles tendon injury, including age and foot structure. But being active in sports at any level significantly increases your risk because you significantly increase the amount of stress put on the tendon. 

For example, basketball requires lots of sprinting up and down the court, fast stops and changes of direction, and jumping — all of which stress your Achilles tendon. Other athletes like soccer players, long-distance runners, and tennis players also run a higher risk of Achilles tendon injuries. 

These activities can injure your Achilles tendon slowly over time due to overuse or suddenly as a result of a rupture or tear.

The likelihood of injury goes up even more if you suddenly increase your level of activity or only exercise occasionally. 

Protecting your Achilles tendon is simple

It can be easy to neglect your Achilles tendon when you’re focused on shaving minutes off your mile time or increasing your vertical, but without a strong Achilles tendon, you run the risk of losing playing time and progress towards your goals. 

Fortunately, protecting your Achilles tendon and preventing injury can be simple. The best thing you can do is to stretch and strengthen your calf muscles. The Achilles tendon runs the length of your lower leg, so strengthening the muscle it’s connected to is a great way to keep it from being injured. 

You should also try to alternate between high and low-impact activities to give your Achilles tendon a rest, choose your running surfaces carefully, and ease into high-intensity activity slowly. 

An Achilles tendon injury isn’t game-ending

You might think that injuring your Achilles tendon is game over for you, but that’s not always true. Only in the most severe cases of rupture or tear does an Achilles tendon injury require surgery, and even then, Achilles tendon surgeries have extremely high success rates

Dr. Geoghan begins her treatment conservatively, so you can return to your sport quickly and safely. In fact, you might only need some rest, ice, compression, and elevation to allow your Achilles tendon time to heal. 

After conducting a thorough review of your symptoms and your health history, she recommends the following treatments:

Dr. Geoghan works closely with you during your recovery and rehabilitation and can adjust your treatment plan as you progress. 

Don’t lace up for another practice or game without having all the facts about your Achilles tendon. If you’d like more information or would like to be seen for an Achilles tendon injury, make an appointment online or over the phone today. 

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