Your achilles tendon can either make or break you
In honour of one of basketball’s greatest competitors, Nike, with the help of social media, has crowned today as #MambaDay.
Towards the latter part of his career he endured multiple injuries, but it’s safe to say Kobe was never the same since he suffered the dreaded and far too common, achilles tendon rupture more than three years ago. Hell bent on carrying his team to the playoffs; he racked up an astounding 320 minutes over seven games, resting for just 16 minutes and 45 seconds.
Shortly after he went down, every league-wide professional said he should’ve stretched more. I’m going to immediately shut that idea down because that wasn’t the cause of his rupture. The achilles tendon is too complicated for such a simple solution.
So what exactly led to this injury?
First, let’s break down the achilles tendon and its unique properties.
Achilles injuries have many causes, usually a combination of numerous issues, with blood supply being a problem. Over time, with repetitive jumping, running or other lower body movement, the lack of blood flow inherent to any tendon results in degeneration or scarring of that tendon, which decreases its ability to lengthen.
Think about it like this, if you bike every day and don’t maintain or grease the bike chain, it will build up grime, dry out and eventually the chain will rust. In this case, without the proper preventative care, your achilles ability to handle the daily demand decreases a lot more. Just like that, a tear occurs when the force is applied faster than the tendon could lengthen.
So what can you do to help prevent an achilles tendon injury?
The health of the achilles lies in the entire back chain from the glutes, hamstrings, and calves.
When looking at the achilles in isolation, a combo of eccentric contractions, ankle mobility and a focus on a focus on a non-inflammatory diet are keys to prehab.
The following are a series of key exercises you can do to avoid an achilles tendon injury.
Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift – This exercise targets the entire posterior chain – glutes, hamstrings and calves.
Calf Raises – We consider this the guardian angel of the achilles. This loads the achilles tendon while lengthening the calves.
Double Leg Bridge – This simple, yet effective exercise shouldn’t be overlooked because of its ability to fire up the glutes.
An injury to the achilles is a complex one, and a simple stretch isn’t sufficient enough. You have to exhaust all avenues to help prevent this major injury from happening. Although this injury can stem from various factors, if you’re proactive enough, your most primary used tendon will be a lot more sustainable over time.