It is that time of year again to educate our weekend warriors:
DO NOT ignore the signs and symptoms of a tight Achilles tendon or Achilles tendonitis (inflammation of the tendon!!).
This condition affects our patients year round, but basketball season tends to send those weekend athletes into our practices in droves. The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscle to the heel bone in the back of the leg and when the calf muscles flex, like they do when we run, jump, or stand on our toes, the Achilles tendon pulls on the heel. Tightness of the Achilles tendon puts you at risk of injuring or even rupturing this tendon.
The key to prevent Achilles tendon rupture is implementing a few simple strategies into your playing time. Remember, full time athletes train hard to play hard. We don’t expect you to spend hours in the gym training for a few hours of H-O-R-S-E but we do recommend you put the 10-15 minutes into warming up combined with stretching of the Achilles tendon when it is tight to keep you healthy and active.
Some simple prevention strategies such as frequent stretching of the muscles of the lower leg can protect that tendon and save you from a painful injury. We recommend stretching those lower leg muscles one to three times per day for 15 to 30 seconds. Add in some basic strength training, like calf raises, and you could prevent a painful and lengthy healing process.
At Talar Medical, we are huge fans of The Equinus Brace™ by IQ Medical and find it to be the most effective way to treat and prevent these types of injuries. One easy hour per day of treatment effectively stretches the calf muscle by extending the knee while flexing the ankle upward. The brace allows controlled treatment aligned with the degree of deformity that is gradually corrected over a three month time period preventing over stretching.
Patrick A. DeHeer, DPM inventor of The Equinus Brace™ explains why treating a tight calf muscle, called Equinus deformity, is critical for Achilles tendon conditions. “Equinus deformity is the underlying cause of most biomechanically based lower extremity pathologies and must be treated as part of any comprehensive treatment plan when present.”