The Achilles tendon is the thick tendon that connects your heel bone to the muscles and the back of your leg. Unfortunately this injury can completely derail your athletic career and make it very hard to recover. For one example, take a look at former NBA player Kobe Bryant and the way his torn Achilles tendon disrupted his career.
The Injury As It Happened
Late in the 2013 season, Kobe was playing an important stretch of basketball during which the Lakers needed to win nearly every game in order to make the playoffs. Being an elite scorer, he logged a lot of minutes that put an incredible strain on his body.
All that strain paid its toll when his Achilles tendon snapped during an April 12 victory over the Golden State Warriors. The scary thing about this injury was that it came without warning during what was a routine maneuver.
While Bryant's body was obviously worn down, try to imagine the same thing happening to you. Maybe you're shooting the ball with your son or playing a pickup game with some friends. You jump for the ball, a routine rebound, and feel a sharp pop in your ankle when you land. There goes your Achilles tendon. The after effect of this injury is severe and can throw off your game forever.
The After Effect
Without Bryant, the Lakers were swept out of the 2012-13 playoffs and have since to make it back. And in the next two seasons, he suffered season-ending injuries, scoring only a combined 865 points in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons. To put that in perspective, Bryant had scored 2,133 points in the season of his injury.
Obviously, this kind of injury is something you can't ignore. Even a professional athlete in the prime of his life and in great shape can overwork their tendon and cause it to be ruptured. Perhaps Bryant could have avoided this problem if he hadn't played so much or if he had taken a few simple prevention efforts.
How You Can Prevent What Kobe Could Not
Bryant's injury wasn't inevitable: with a little preparation, he could have potentially stopped it from occurring. Yes, it would have required taking a break and not playing as much, but it was possible. The major reason that these injuries happen is over-strain and he had worked himself and his tendon to the breaking point.
However, you can avoid that fate by following these simple steps:
- Stretching calf muscles before exercise
- Avoid high-impact exercises, such as running
- Limit your running time on hard surfaces
- Increase exercise intensity by only 10% every week
- Take a few days off between intense exercise
Even though Kobe's 20th and final season showed him playing some of the worst basketball of his career, he bounced back in his final game and put up an incredible 60-point game. However, you might not be so lucky if you suffer from this injury. Instead, you need to exercise within your abilities and avoid high-impact exercise whenever possible. If you are having trouble with your achilles tendon, contact a business such as Advanced Physical Therapy.