The USA is known for a variety of athletic activities and competitive athletes. Amongst this group of athletes are the Weekend Warriors. A Weekend Warrior is a healthy man or woman between the ages of 30-50, that is physically active from time to time. Achilles tendon rupture is the most common injury in this group of athletes, who normally have no history of problems in the affected leg. Frequency of Achilles tendon rupture is more common in men than women and more common in the left leg. Achilles tendon ruptures are also common in people who are in poor physical condition, taking fluoroquinolone antibiotics, are older in age, over work themselves, or have been using corticosteroids.
The Achilles tendon commonly ruptures in an area known as the watershed zone. The watershed zone is the area of the tendon 2-6 cm above the insertion of the tendon into the calcaneus and contains the smallest amount of blood supply making it susceptible to rupture. The Achilles may have a complete or partial tear, which is diagnosed by an MRI. Conservative and surgical treatment has long been debated for treatment of this problem. Surgery has a higher complication rate, but less chance of re-rupture. On the other hand conservative has less complications, but has a 3 times higher chance or re-rupture. Athletes are strongly recommended to undergo surgical treatment to properly realign the segments of the Achilles tendon, and get them back to physical activity in a shorter period of time with less chance of repeat injury.
The best way to treat an Achilles tendon rupture is prevention. Wearing proper shoe gear daily as well as athletic shoes with a good arch support for exercise will help relieve the stress on the Achilles. Warming up before starting a stretching or work out routine, followed by stretching of the calf muscles, see plantar fasciitis article, will relieve the tightness of the Achilles tendon and decrease the chance for rupture. Along with stretching the Achilles it is also important to strengthen the tendon. Most people think that performing calf raises will help strengthen the Achilles, however, doing eccentric muscle stretches by lowering your calves has more of a benefit and also helps to strengthen the tibialis anterior muscle, whose main function is to dorsiflex the foot. Performing the aerobic portion of a work out routine before strength exercises is important for rupture prevention. Strength exercises tend to tire out the muscle groups, making them more susceptible to rupture during physical activity. Lastly, if the Achilles tendon is painful after physical activity, DO NOT IGNORE IT! Treating tendonitis is easier then treating a rupture!