6 Things that Can Cause an Achilles Tendon Rupture

Dr. Arash Dini understands that you want to remain active, but he and his staff would like to caution you to ramp up your activity levels carefully. If you happen to be male and between the ages of 30 and 40, your risk of rupturing your Achilles tendon is much higher if you don’t take preventive action. 

What your Achilles tendon does

Your Achilles tendon attaches your calf muscle to the heel of your foot. It’s a thick, strong band of tissue that allows you to move your foot in a downward motion, which is necessary for jumping, running, and even simply walking slowly. 

Because your Achilles tendon is used often and withstands a great deal of stress, it’s prone to injury. Achilles tendonitis occurs when the tendon becomes inflamed, swollen, or irritated. It’s painful, but can usually be treated successfully without surgery. An Achilles tendon rupture, however, is a more serious and often more painful injury. 

Men are far more likely to experience an Achilles tendon rupture than women, particularly men who are so-called weekend warriors. Achilles tendon ruptures are often the result of one (or more) of the following six things. 

1. Being obese

The more excess weight your Achilles tendon bears, the more likely it is to rupture if you accidentally step in a hole, or begin a new exercise program. 

Losing weight, slowly and through good health practices, has a great many benefits. One of them is lowering your risk of an Achilles tendon rupture.

2. Beginning a new sport

Activity is good, but if it requires more movement or significantly different movement from the activities you’ve been doing, the strain on your Achilles tendon could lead to rupture. When you begin a new sport, approach it slowly and give your body time to adjust. 

3. A bone spur

Usually, an Achilles tendon rupture happens near where the tendon attaches to your heel. Blood flow there isn’t as good as in the rest of your tendon, and there’s a great deal of strain on that specific area. A bone spur on your heel can rub across your Achilles tendon, increasing the stress and the potential for a rupture. 

4. Significantly increasing your activity levels

Whether you’re beginning a new sport or exercise regimen, or you’re ramping up training within an activity you’ve been doing, increasing too quickly can lead to injury. For example, if you’ve run 3 miles a day for years, but you’ve decided to train for a marathon, you should slowly add mileage to avoid injury -- including Achilles tendon rupture. 

5. Not stretching properly

The tighter your calf muscles are, the more they pull on your Achilles tendon. If you begin exercising with tight calf muscles, your Achilles tendon is under even more stress than usual. Tight muscles make you more vulnerable to injury. 

Warming up and stretching prior to exercise, especially intense exercise, is an important part of protecting yourself so that you can continue to train. 

6. Uneven surfaces 

Sometimes an Achilles tendon rupture is just bad luck. You may step into a hole while hiking and cause it, or perhaps you’re running on an uneven trail. If your Achilles tendon is prone to rupture because you have Achilles tendonitis, a simple misstep can lead to rupture. 

If you’re planning to increase your training time or intensity, or you suspect you’re at risk for an Achilles tendon rupture for other reasons, book an appointment with Dr. Dini to discuss your concerns. We have two offices to serve you, in Los Angeles and Encino, California.

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