ACHILLES TENDON LOADING DURING WEIGHT BEARING EXERCISES

Review written by Stephen King info

BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE:

Achilles tendon (AT) injuries are common injuries, particularly amongst male runners aged 30-50 years old (1). Conservative management involving exercise and mechanical loading of tendons is commonly recommended (2). However, excessive loading can lead to tendon injury itself. This study looked to characterize stress on the AT whilst performing several commonly used exercises, including tandem, Romberg (feet together), and unilateral standing; unilateral and bilateral heel rising; unilateral and bilateral jump landing; squatting, forward lunging, walking, and running.

METHODS

Each subject in this study had their Achilles tendon cross-sectional area imaged via ultrasound in a neutral position. The participants were given the same footwear to perform the exercises in, and a warm up on a treadmill walking at a self-selected pace was performed. 47 markers were placed on the participants for visual analysis and four force plates were used to record the impact of each exercise performed.

Only the right leg was evaluated during each exercise (which were performing in a randomly allocated order), with the tempo for each repetition set by a metronome at .5Hz or one second concentric and one second eccentric contraction for each of the 5 repetitions. The speed was standardised to 1.4m/s (±5%) for walking and 3.5m/s (±5%) for running.

RESULTS

The authors found that there was a definite load difference between each exercise that was performed. This included differences in peak AT stress, AT force, AT stress rate, ankle ROM, and AT impulse.

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