Preventing Achilles Injuries


CLEVELAND, Ohio. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Each year, about 230,000 Achilles tendon injuries happen in the U.S., and that number keeps going up. Now, doctors are looking for ways to prevent these common injuries.

Since she was six, gymnast Nia Dennis has had one dream.

“My goal is to make the Olympic team,” Dennis shared.

But that goal was cut short after a training session last year.

Dennis explained to Ivanhoe, “I knew something was off when I was starting to run my tumbling pass, and I felt a pop, and my whole calf got tingly and cold.”

Dennis ruptured her Achilles, the tendon that connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. Doctors at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush have seen a 300 percent increase in these types of injuries over a ten-year span. though common in young athletes, the fastest growing patients are active and between ages 30 and 50.

George B. Holmes, Jr., MD, a foot and ankle orthopedic surgeon in Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush confessed, “I think we’re seeing more of the middle aged and older patients because they are staying active longer.”

“There are a lot more of these tough Mudder, Spartan like races, that’s really uneven ground and territory,” said Simon Lee, MD, foot and ankle orthopedic surgeon in Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush.

But you may be able to prevent an Achilles injury. First, wear the right shoes. If your soles have uneven wear marks, toss them. Try using an ankle brace for support during risky activities, like a mud run. Also, perform strength and balance exercises such as standing on one leg for 30 seconds or one-leg mini squats. Ten reps to the front, side, and back, repeated three times on each leg. And, stretch before and after physical activity.

Dr. Lee expressed, “The tires are the only thing that touches the road in a car, so they always tell you to have really good tires, so similarly the feet and the ankles are the first thing that hit the ground for everyone.”

Dennis had surgery and she is already back competing in level ten gymnastics.

To help stop ankle injuries from occurring, physicians of Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush collaborated with athletic trainers in the Midwest to launch Ankles for Life, a public awareness program that provides athletes of all ages the tools to incorporate ankle injury prevention tactics into their workout and warm-up routines. These exercises can be found at in a downloadable brochure. The website also includes information on how to order complimentary gym tags with ankle injury prevention tips.

Contributors to this news report include: Julie Marks, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

REPORT #2405

(Source: & & George B. Holmes, Jr., MDBACKGROUND: The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the human body. It stretches from the bones in the heel to the calf muscles. Although it is the biggest tendon, it is very common for it to become injured. The injury may be mild or moderate where just pain and stiffness is experienced (Achilles tendinosis), or it may be severe where the tendon is torn or completely ruptured. These injuries tend to happen when sudden movement starts too rapidly followed by the body slowing down. People who practice the following activities are at greater risk of suffering from an Achilles injury: running, gymnastics, dance, football, baseball, softball, basketball, tennis and volleyball. Around 232,000 Achilles injuries occur every year in the United States. The injury can occur to anyone, but is more prevalent in men older than 30. Dr. Holmes says “According to recent data the number of Achilles tendon ruptures in North America is about 10 ruptures per 100,000 or about 30,000 to 35,000 ruptures per year. Many orthopaedic surgeons report that incidence is on the rise.”

TREATMENT:  Moderate Achilles injuries can heal on their own since time is the only remedy. But, here are some factors that can speed the process:

  • Rest your leg. It is important that no weight is put on the injured leg; for a faster healing use crutches.
  • Ice your leg for 20 minutes every 3 hours to reduce pain and swelling.
  • Compress your leg by using an elastic bandage around the lower leg and ankle to keep down swelling.
  • Elevate your leg on a pillow when you’re sitting down.
  • Take anti-inflammatory painkillers.
  • Use a heel lift to help protect your Achilles tendon from further stretching.
  • Practice strengthening and stretching exercises.

Normally, these activities are enough to heal an Achilles injury, but if the injury is severe a cast may be needed for 3 to 6 weeks. Sometimes surgery is needed to repair the tendon or remove extra tissue.


PREVENT AN ACHILLES INJURY: The more active you are, the greater the chances you may suffer from an Achilles injury. Nevertheless, there are some steps you can take in order to avoid suffering from one:

  • Wear the right shoes. If your work-out shoes possess uneven wear marks, you shouldn’t be wearing them. Make sure they have good support and they fit well.
  • Use an ankle brace for extra support during risky activities.
  • Perform strength and balance exercises.
  • Stretch before AND after any physical activity.
  • Cut down on uphill running.
  • Always boost the intensity of your activity slowly.
  • Stop exercising if you feel pain or tightness in the back of your calf or heel.

(Source: &

* For More Information, Contact:

Ann Pitcher


Free weekly e-mail on Medical Breakthroughs from Ivanhoe. To sign up: