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David Beckham's Achilles Strain

News of the anguish of David Beckhams ruptured Achilles tendon has sent reverberations around the sports world as his dreams of appearing in four world cup campaigns has been ruined.

The former England captain and icon was in agony as he came off while playing for AC Milan. The AC Milan doctor has said he could be out of action for five to eight months and the fear is that this could be the end of not only his international career but also his playing career.

Achilles tendonitis and rupture can potentially affect all athletes regardless of experience and age. Here are some facts regarding Achilles tendonitis and rupture:

How does an Achilles strain affect running?

Achilles strains are the bane of many athletes. This is a common sporting injury that can often become chronic and prevent any form of running. Running needs to be ceased for 7-14 days depending on the severity of the injury with a gradual increase to normal training.

What causes an Achilles Strain as opposed to an Achilles rupture?

The most common cause of Achilles tendonitis is to ignore a minor Achilles strain and continue your running regime. Sudden speed increases, hill work and ineffective pre and post running stretches can lead to Achilles tendonitis. Recent research suggests that certain running shoes can cause Achilles tendonitis. If the sole of the shoe is too stiff it can lead to increased calf muscle tension. This tension forces the Achilles tendon to worker harder and thus facilitates the injury. Excessive air filled heel cushioning can also aggravate an Achilles strain as the heel is being suspended during normal heel strike.

Are men or women more susceptible to Achilles injuries?

Women who take up running are at a greater risk. This mainly affects women who wear high-heeled shoes, which effectively shorten the Achilles tendon. When the individual then takes up running in "flat shoes", the Achilles tendon is put under increased tension.

How do you rupture your Achilles tendon?

You can rupture the Achilles tendon when pushing off, jumping or from a fall. It can happen spontaneously - but is normally a sporting injury, caused when pushing off.

What factors can contribute to Achilles rupture?

The Achilles tendon is one of the strongest tendons in the body as it can withstand a load of 400kg. However it can be weakened due to factors such as old age, arthritis and patients using steroids for an extended period of time.

Do children tear their Achilles tendon?

Childrens Achilles tendons have more stretch so therefore are less likely to tear.

Is surgery always necessary?

It all depends on the extent of the damage, in some cases the patient is placed in an immobilization plaster and in other cases surgery is necessary as the tendon has been severely ruptured.

How do you know if the tendon is ruptured?

The sudden pain on the back of the ankle is intense and you may hear a crack or popping noise. Swelling and bruising will quickly set and weight bearing will be almost impossible.

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