And SNAP! goes the achilles tendon.

girlbug2

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Practicing kicks tonight, one of the students in my class felt his Achilles tendon pop and down he went in agony. He was taken to the emergency room, I don't know the official diagnosis yet nor the recommended treatment (no doubt we'll all hear about it tomorrow morning). Some of the others in class were speculating afterward that he would need surgery and that it would take him months to recover.

So, firstly: does stretching really help to prevent this, and if so, what type of stretches should be done, and at what time--before, or during the warmup?--afterward? How soon?

Secondly, I had a similar incident more than three years ago, I heard and felt it pop. It was weird and sore, but only mildly painful--not like what this guy went through. I limped for several weeks but recovered without surgery. Was that really a snapped tendon then, or maybe just overstretched?
 

Carol

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A pop of a tendon or ligament isn't necessarily a rupture. Think of it as being strum like a guitar string. It has had enough pressure put on it to make noise, but not enough to actually break the string. :)

Unfortunately for your classmate, going down in agony is not a good sign :(

Does stretching really help? Controversial subject to be sure. No. The most important factor is diet. Tendons need to be fed. Calcium, magnesium, Vitamins D and K. Lots of leafy greens and a few minutes in the sun will do the job nicely....but the trick is getting them in every day.

Actual weight lifting (not simply load bearing) exercises also help, but to get the real benefit one's diet must be rich in the nutrients the tendons are looking for.
 

K-man

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So, firstly: does stretching really help to prevent this, and if so, what type of stretches should be done, and at what time--before, or during the warmup?--afterward? How soon?

Secondly, I had a similar incident more than three years ago, I heard and felt it pop. It was weird and sore, but only mildly painful--not like what this guy went through. I limped for several weeks but recovered without surgery. Was that really a snapped tendon then, or maybe just overstretched?
There is no evidence to support benefit of stretching before activity. Ordinary warm up should be all that is necessary. Stretching is working on the muscle, not the tendon. On the other hand, if you stretch after exercise the muscle does tend to stretch (read 'comes apart') and rejoins slightly longer. Hence the muscle will lengthen with time and reduce the risk of ligament damage. I remember reading somewhere that damaged achilles tendon is the most common MA injury.
As to your injury. Snapped tendon requires surgery so whatever it was, it wasn't a ruptured tendon. As Carol said, bits move around and make noises. The trick is to listen to our bodies and rest them when they need rest.
 

Dirty Dog

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You cannot really stretch the tendons. Stretching is for the muscles, and really is best done after they are well warmed up.

If it truely was an achilles rupture, then the treatment is surgical, and recovery is months. On the other hand (foot?) there are lots of tendons in the foot/ankle that are not as vital, and a rupture does not necessarily require repair.
 

Brian R. VanCise

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I had a strained achilles tendon at one point. Took around six months or a little over to heal. Hopefully your student does not need surgery!
 
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