Another must read article in our Injury/Prevention Education Series from Dr. Marc Bochner, including: why the Achilles tendon is one of the most commonly injured tendons, how to recognize early signs of injury and treat properly.
Injury to the Achilles tendon can either happen suddenly, as in a rupture,or can occur gradually, as with tendinosis, which is the usual case in running. In the sudden injury scenario, recreational athletes often injure an already tightened or weakened calf when it is suddenly stretched or contracted past its normal limits, causing the tear. Although tears can occur in endurance athletes, the common scenario for a tear is a middle-aged person who has gradually lost flexibility and developed adhesions in the calf muscles and around the tendon, probably from years of sitting without regular stretching, and who goes out and plays tennis or softball for the first time in months or years. He or she then stresses muscles and tendons past their current limits, and a tear occurs. So even though the injury may seem sudden, the predisposing factor of decreased calf flexibility was probably present for some time. Likewise, in running and other endurance sports, a loss of calf flexibility and calf muscle/tendon adhesions are also to blame for cases of tendinosis.