In the muscle-tendon unit, the area where the muscle joins the tendon is often the weakest link in the chain. Consequently, this is often the location where acute ruptures or complete tearing of the tendon occurs. The tendon, however, can also completely tear away from its bony attachment. A rupture of the Achilles tendon is a common injury for soccer players.
Achilles tendon ruptures often occur when quick, explosive actions are involved – like when a player cuts to get away from an opponent or chases after the ball. Micro tears of the tendon from prolonged tendonitis can also be a contributing factor.
Signs and symptoms include a loss of muscle function and pain (you won’t be able to push off to run using your calf muscle). Athletes will usually report hearing a “snap” or a “pop,” or say it felt like they were kicked in the back of the leg. Swelling and deformity may occur, as the affected muscle will bunch up in a contracted state.
On-site management includes following the PRICE principle. PROTECT the area from further injury (by bracing). REST and ICE the injured area often. COMPRESSION is NOT recommended. ELEVATE to increase circulation towards the heart. An immediate trip to the hospital is mandatory because in most cases, surgical reattachment of the muscle is necessary.
More tips at the Province Sports Academy.
After physician approval, see a physiotherapist for modalities, range of motion, and strengthening exercises.
The athlete should prepare for a lengthy spell on the sidelines as the recovery process takes a minimum of four months. Only after an exercise rehabilitation program and a doctor’s OK can the player return to activity.
For more information, check out facebook.com/sportmedsoccer.
Photo: Getty Images