By Oliver Chang, Physiotherapist

Recently, the sporting world witnessed one of the most dramatic NBA finals in its history, seeing the team with home advantage losing all but one of the games as the Toronto Raptors beat the Golden State Warriors to capture their first ever championship.

Warriors’ two-time reigning Finals MVP Kevin Durant was absent throughout the play-off campaign due to a calf injury. The Warriors struggled with their offence and was on the cusp of Finals defeat when they were down 3 games to 1 entering Game 5.

Durant was declared fit by the medical staff and his own physician and returned to the team to start the do-or-die encounter. He led the charge for the Warriors, scoring a quick-fired 11 points in the first quarter to lead by 6 points at the break. He hit all his 3-pointers attempts. Three minutes into the second quarter, this happened: 

Durant was later diagnosed with an Achilles rupture, and is expected to be out of the 2019-2020 season. He was going to become a free agent in a few weeks and was pursued by a number of teams, but now there are reports that title contenders such as the 76ers and the Clippers have dropped out of the race, although the Knicks and Nets are still interested in his service at this stage.

Signs and symptoms for an Achilles tendon rupture may include popping or snapping sounds, and the feeling of getting shot in the back of the ankle.  

The Achilles tendon ruptures because the load applied to it is greater than the tendon’s ability to withstand that load. This usually occurs as a result of a sudden, quick movement where there is a forceful stretch or contraction of the tendon for example – jumping and sprinting. This happens most often in sports that require frequent starting and stopping (acceleration-deceleration sports) such as tennis, basketball, netball, and squash.

Achilles tendons are most at risk when the muscles and tendons have not been stretched and/or warmed up properly before activities, or when the muscles are fatigued. The Achilles tendon has a poor blood supply, which means it is more susceptible to injury and slower to heal post-injury.

There may not be warning signs of an incoming rupture. However, repetitive Achilles tendonitis can weaken the tendon and make it more at risk of rupturing. 

Other factors that may increase the risk of Achilles tendon rupture include:

  • Being middle-aged and male
  • Tight calf muscles and/or Achilles tendon
  • Change in running surface, eg: from grass to concrete
  • Incorrect or poor footwear
  • A change of footwear, eg: from heeled to flat shoes.

Diagnosis can be made through medical professionals’ tests and investigations. Treatment may include casting, surgery and rehabilitation.

Preventative measures can save a lot of grief, and some tips include: 

  • Appropriate stretching and warming up prior to exercising, and cool down post-training/games
  • a good pre-season build-up
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight.
  • Wearing appropriate footwear
  • Calf muscle stretching and strengthening to allow the Achilles tendon to absorb greater forces

Here at Advance Wellness we provide Physio rehabilitation services for achilles related injuries, as well as prevention including gait analysis, advice and exercise programs. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us, if you have any concerns and/or want to seek help.

Reference – Southern Cross Medical Library

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