5 Tips to Help Athletes Avoid Achilles Tendon Injuries

Your Achilles tendon is a tough, fibrous band that extends from your heel bone to your calf. While your Achilles is the largest tendon in your body, it’s also easy to injure, especially if you play sports. Your Achilles tendon allows you to accomplish all kinds of important foot and leg movements, including:

Because your Achilles is essential to so many movements, keeping it healthy should be a priority. Michael A. Gentile, DPM, FACFAS, founder of Portland Foot & Ankle Institute in Portland, Oregon, offers these five tips to keep your Achilles tendon strong and functional:

1. Warm up with stretches

Before your game or workout, be sure to warm up your muscles and your Achilles tendon. Plunging into intense activity before your muscles and tendons are warm can raise the risk for injury.

Stretch your calf by sitting on the floor with your legs out in front of you. Bend forward slowly until you feel a stretch in your calf. Hold steadily for 30 seconds. Release and repeat at least 10 times.

2. Strengthen your calf muscles

When your calf muscles are strong, they can help absorb some of the shock of high-intensity activities, such as running and jumping. Standing in place with your hand on the wall for balance, rise up on your toes to engage your calf muscles. Increase the difficulty and burden on each muscle by doing one leg at a time.

3. Shake up your workout

Repetitive motions raise your risk for injury. If you play a high-intensity sport, such as basketball or football, add in other types of workouts to your training sessions to help your body become more flexible. Consider:

Limit the movements that could easily cause an injury, such as jumping or running up hills.

4. Go slow

Just as you should warm up before a workout, if you’re planning to increase your activity level, you need to do it gradually. Sudden moves or increases in intensity can increase your risk for injury. If you’re a school athlete who doesn’t play during the summer, for instance, be sure to play a few light-intensity games before returning to your sport.

5. Get the right gear

Make sure your athletic shoes are in good shape and still offer your feet proper support. If you have a tendency to injure your Achilles or other parts of your feet or legs, Dr. Gentile may recommend custom-designed orthotics to correct your alignment.

If you work out in cold temperatures, such as outdoors, be sure to dress warmly. Leg warmers and compression stockings can increase the circulation in your calves while you work out or train.

Whether you have an Achilles injury or just want to prevent one, Dr. Gentile can help. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Portland Foot & Ankle Institute today.

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