Gymnasts are among the most physically active athletes in sports, due to the unique demand the sport puts on their bodies. Unfortunately, they may be prone to a variety of injuries, including Achilles tendon tears. This serious condition can destroy a promising career, which makes avoiding it incredible important.
What Causes Achilles Tears In Gymnasts?
Achilles tears are typically caused by a few simple things, such as excessive exercise, a sudden increase in severity of exercise, misalignment while exercising, poor foot support, and a sudden increase in forces on the tendon. These problems can cause the tendon to snap and put a gymnast out of commission.
Just think of the activities a gymnast goes through in a practice. For example, they may be leaping through the air, spinning, and landing on their feet. Landing improperly or performing these kinds of activities without proper warm up or while wearing poor shoes may cause severe strain on the tendon, causing it to snap.
Why They Are So Important To Avoid
After the Achilles tendon snaps, surgery is required to fuse the tendon back together. This surgery will put a gymnast in a cast or walking boot for as long as three months. Full healing may require much longer, which robs a gymnast of valuable competition time in a sport where youth is so essential to success.
Even worse, those who suffer from Achilles tendon tears rarely achieve the same kind of athletic success they had beforehand. For example, basketball players who suffer from this problem often lose their shot and struggle to compete. In a sport where so much emphasis is put on landing on the feet properly, a weak Achilles can make it nearly impossible to compete.
Ways Gymnasts Can Avoid Them
The best way to avoid tears in the Achilles is to stretch it one to three times a day for at least 15 to 30 seconds. This stretch can include range-of-motion stretches that keep it flexible and strong. Exercise at the beginning of the season should start out slow, focusing mostly on simple leaps that don't put much strain on the tendon. Gradually, intensity should then be increased.
Gymnasts should try to stop practicing or exercising if they begin to feel any strain in their heels. Stopping at this point gives the tendon a nice workout that increases its strength without over working it. In this way, you can increase its strength and decrease your risk of suffering from a tear. If you're recovering from an injury to your Achilles tendon, contact a doctor like Dr. Lisa M. Schoene at a sports medicine clinic in your area to help you to heal.