Achilles’ Tendonitis and Rupture Causes and Prevention

Achilles’ Tendonitis and Rupture Causes and Prevention

Achilles’ tendonitis and rupture are common injuries in both athletes and inactive people that can be prevented.  Even professional athletes with extreme conditioning are not immune.  DeMarcus Cousins of the New Orleans Pelicans (pictured left) suffered a season ending rupture of his Achilles’ tendon on Friday, January 26.  He is looking at a minimum of 6 months of treatment to repair and rehabilitate the torn tendon.  

The Achilles’ Tendon is the largest tendon in the body.  It is made up of 3 tendons from 3 different muscles in the back of the leg.  These muscles are considered  “long muscles” due to the long distances they stretch.  The muscles of the Achilles’ tendon function to push you forward when walking and running.  Over utilization of these muscles can result in pain and inflammation known as tendonitis.  Often times the injury to the tendon is due to a low grade repetitive stress that eventually causes pain, inflammation and thickening of the tendon known as tendinosis.  Finally, if left untreated, a rupture of the tendon can occur.  

So why does this happen to otherwise healthy people?  There are risk factors to consider.  The sex of the individual is the first.  Men rupture tendons more often than women.   Age plays a role as our tendons lose elasticity as time goes by.  Biomechanical function of the foot makes those with a flatfoot type more susceptible as it causes more stress and tension on the Achilles’ tendon.  Training habits are big contributing factor.   Weekend warriors who don’t engage in regular exercise are at higher risk as are those who do not wear the proper shoes for the activity or foot type.  Worn out shoes in particular have been known to cause significant injury to the wearer.  Certain medical conditions such as psoriasis and hypertension predispose the sufferer to tendon rupture.  Finally, certain medications can cause weakening of tendons such as fluoroquinolone antibiotics like Cipro or Levaquin and direct injection of steroids.

Prevention can  be easy with the following steps.

  1. Gradually increase your level of activity whether you are starting a new exercise program or ramping up your current on, slow and steady is always best.
  2. Wear the proper shoes for the activity you are engaging in.  Do NOT wear running shoes to play tennis or vice versa.  Also remember to replace your shoes every 6 months as they will breakdown even with mild to moderate activity.
  3. Stretching exercises keep the tendons from tightening and restricting motion.
  4. Strengthening exercises will keep the muscles in the leg strong and less susceptible to injury.


  1. Cross training is important to balance all the muscle groups in the leg to keep one group from over working while another group becomes weakened.

If you have been suffering with minor to significant pain in the back of your ankle, don’t wait for it to develop into a debilitating injury.  See a reputable doctor in your area as soon as possible.

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