Achilles Tendonitis from Basketball
Basketball may have some of the most humble beginnings of any sport. What started as a peach basket hung in a YMCA has grown up to be one of the most popular sports in the world. Millions of people love to play basketball and even more folks enjoy viewing it. Whether one is playing professional basketball with the NBA or just a quick pickup game with friends, one still risks injury. Among many possible strains and sprains, achilles tendonitis from basketball is one of the most common injuries.
Tendons are a type of tissue that connect the muscles to bones. The achilles tendon specifically is the largest and strongest tendon in the human body. It connects the the heel to the calf muscle. Thus, the achilles tendon is used constantly in any activity involving standing and moving. This includes running, walking, dancing, jumping and, of course, playing basketball. Achilles tendonitis from basketball is likely to develop thanks to all of the sprinting, jumping and pivoting that takes place in this popular sport. In many active sports such as basketball, the achilles tendon can take on up to ten times one’s body weight in sport stresses. When it comes to most athletics, the achilles tendon hardly ever gets a rest. Here’s how to tell if you’re suffering from achilles tendonitis from basketball and how to handle it.
Achilles tendonitis means an inflammation of the achilles tendon. This inflammation comes from tiny tears in the achilles tendon. These can be caused by a variety of things, many of them a part of your average basketball game. For instance, one movement that puts stress on the achilles tendon is the pivot, as mentioned before.
Similarly when a basketball player switches from offense to defense or vise versa, he or she must stop and change directions suddenly. Changing directions that quickly puts a particular amount of force on the achilles tendon. If it were just that one time, the achilles tendon would probably be fine. It can handle a little bit of pressure. After all, it’s the biggest and strongest tendon in the body, isn’t it?
However, it’s the fact that this movement is done over and over again in each game that wears on the tendon. Achilles tendonitis from basketball is an overuse injury. This means that the largest wear and tear comes from the repetitive motions in the sport. Similarly repetitive running on its own is also a huge contributing factor to achilles tendonitis. Thus, it’s no wonder that runners are also frequently plagued with this condition.
Several risk factors may make it more likely for certain people to develop achilles tendonitis. For one thing, men are more likely to suffer from it, as are those players with high arches. But, research has also shown that people over 30 are more likely to have problems with their achilles tendon. This is because tendons become tighter and less pliable as our bodies age. If you fall under any of these categories, be especially careful in caring for your achilles tendons.
Achilles tendonitis is pretty unmistakable. You’ll notice it as a sharp or aching pain right at the achilles tendon. Usually this pain manifests just above the heel, but is sometimes felt at the bottom of the calf muscle as well. In some cases of achilles tendonitis from basketball, a nodule will form. This is a swollen piece of the tendon that feels like a lump.
The tendon will be sensitive to the touch and may let off some extra heat or appear red. Some people with achilles tendonitis will also hear a cracking sound when moving the ankle. Flexing or moving the ankle can sometimes relieve the pain. However, achilles tendonitis usually starts to feel worse a few hours after activity and especially after it has rested.
If you believe you are suffering from achilles tendonitis from basketball, you’ll want to act now rather than later. For starters, follow the RICE method of treatment. Even though achilles tendonitis can begin to feel worse after a few hours of rest, it’s important to give yourself some time off. When resting, ice your achilles tendon. This will cut down the inflammation and alleviate some of the pain. For best results, apply ice to the area for 15 minutes every one or two hours.
The Rolflex PRO can also be used to relieve pain associated with achilles tendonitis. Begin by rolling out the anterior tibialis (shin) muscle. Rolling out this muscle relieves the tension built in the front of the ankle. Then you can roll out the achilles tendon and the entire lower leg. This will increase blood flow to the affected area and may decrease pain associated with achilles tendonitis.
In more extreme cases, it might be helpful to use a splint or a cast to immobilize your ankle, especially at night. If not, you may move it unconsciously and deepen the tears that already exist. If you think your have a severe case of achilles tendonitis, a doctor will be able to provide you with the materials you’ll need to prevent further injury at night.
In the very worst cases of achilles tendonitis, surgery is required to prevent lameness. Most players generally treat their achilles tendonitis before it gets to this point. It’s important to do so, as the achilles tendon is responsible for lifting the heel for every single step we take. If left untreated, the tears will get worse and eventually your achilles tendon will rupture. In cases like these, one may need surgery.
Perhaps the biggest thing that basketball players can do to prevent achilles tendonitis is to stretch and warm up. Going into an active sport without warming up in any way is the quickest way to injure yourself. Make sure that before you hit the court, you take the time to stretch the calf muscles. You’ll also benefit from regularly performing strengthening exercises for the ankle, calf muscles and foot. The stronger the surrounding area, the less pressure the achilles tendon will be under.
Lastly, make sure you invest in the best shoes possible. If you’ve never been fitted for basketball shoes by a professional, you’ll be amazed at what a difference it makes. Wearing shoes that fit the width, length and arch of your foot can make a huge difference in the health of your playing.