Who is Most at Risk for Achilles Tendon Problems

It’s finally fall in Austin, which means sweltering summer highs have given way to more pleasant midday temperatures. You can actually plan an active Saturday afternoon—running, tennis, basketball, whatever you like to do—without being miserable! We generally encourage all our patients to take advantage of the nice weather, but we’ll throw in a word of caution—watch out for your Achilles!

 Achilles tendon

While anyone could be the unfortunate victim of an Achilles tendon problem—tendinitis, partial tear, or full rupture—the reality is that factors like age, gender, and activity have a lot to do with determining your risk.

Your classic Achilles tendinitis or Achilles tendon rupture sufferer tends to be male, middle aged (roughly 30-50 years old), and often prone to short bursts of intense athletic activity—in other words, a “weekend warrior” who may work a day job during the week but plays hard during time off.

Why that demographic? The answer is that it tends to be a “sweet spot” for this kind of injury. As we age, tendons get weaker, less flexible, and more susceptible to damage—especially if you haven’t been maintaining good physical fitness. However, many people in this age bracket may still enjoy athletic competition and remain quite physically active, including sports that require jumping, running, or frequent starts and stops. That combination can lead to a much higher Achilles injury rate, especially if you’ve been sitting all week at work and your body isn’t used to such strenuous activity.

Of course, not all people with tendinitis or a rupture fit the profile. Those who are overweight or who have flat feet usually put extra strain on their calves, making the Achilles more susceptible to inflammation or tearing. Furthermore, certain medical conditions (like high blood pressure or psoriasis) or taking certain medications (particularly fluoroquinolone antibiotics) can magnify your risk as well.

If you fit the key demographic, that doesn’t mean your tendon is doomed! Just remember to stretch regularly, increase exercise intensity slowly (give your body a few weeks to adjust to new activities), and mix it up with some lower-impact activities like biking or swimming. If you do run into any problems, make an appointment with Dr. Keith McSpadden at North Austin Foot & Ankle Institute by calling 512-593-2949. We know you want to get back on the court (or trail, or field …) as soon as possible, and we’re dedicated to getting you there.

Posted on November 3, 2015 and filed under Sports Injury.