Vivian Grisogono

Achilles tendon tear

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TA rupture during football
Q: One of the guys in my football team snapped his Achilles tendon last year (innocuous run down the left wing, probably slightly uneven ground, no tackle, no contact, just "crack" ... it's often the way e.g. Aurelio for Liverpool).
Anyway, his doc/physio is advising him that he should avoid "contact sports" from now on.  He's only 35 and was hoping to play footie until he's 65 ... like most of us :-)  I find it a little strange for a few reasons: (a) the injury was not as a result of contact (and often isn't, as you know); (b) at the time of the injury he said my friend was just unlucky and could have done it coming down stairs; and (c) he has advocated squash and badminton, which, in my experience, put a lot more strain on the Achilles (or at least as much).
So  I just wondered what your experience was and whether you'd make the same call.  He really is downhearted at having to accept that he'll never play football again, but doesn't want to do anything stupid, of course.  Any advice gratefully received.
Male, amateur footballer, UK
A: I am as surprised as you at the doctor's/physio's advice, which strikes me as illogical. Your friend suffered a typical "intrinsic" injury, which, as you say, had nothing to do with contact.
It has everything to do with shoes, dehydration, fatigue and possibly diet.
I've written about it in my website, under "Injuries and pain" "Achilles tendon ", so your friend could print that out for a start. (as you know,
You don't say if he had an operation or not. Either way, proper rehab exercises are a must, preferably with accurate  guidance, which can even be given by mail or telephone if it’s not possible in person.
I don't see any reason to write off football. But any explosive sprint sport should not be done before full recovery is achieved, for which one has to allow at least 9 months to a year.

Q2: Thanks for the swift reply.  I'll definitely put my friend on to your website and let him know of your kind offer of support.
He did not opt for the op because he was told it would only make a 5% difference (or some such).  What I also did not tell you is that he has been incredibly unlucky because the previous year he ruptured his cruciate ligament (in his other leg) and was out for a year while that mended.  He had the operation done where a section of his hamstring was used to build a new ligament.  He was getting back in his rhythm after a year out when the Achilles injury happened.  He'd only been back for 9 games so I feel really sorry for him.
I am delighted that your advice gives hope.  I rather expected that it would which is why I was keen to contact you about it.
I expect there is a possibility that his year-long recuperation from his cruciate injury to his right leg may have had some bearing on his Achilles injury (the old problem of overcompensation).  Of course, it could just have been bad luck, I suppose.

A2: You're right that your friend's previous cruciate rupture probably led into this Achilles tendon injury. He almost certainly needs to be doing exercises for that injury too, in the background of rehabilitating the Achilles tear.
It’s probably as well that your friend didn’t have his tendon operated on: unless the operation is expertly done, it's better to use nature's immense healing powers, followed by the appropriate rehabilitation exercises.
In all cases, the rehabilitation process requires patience and diligence, but full functional recovery is usually possible.