The Achilles tendon is what links your calf muscle to your heel bone and allows you to propel yourself forward when walking or running, as well as enabling your to jump. Huge forces are transferred through this tendon, which makes it susceptible to injury.
A recent study suggests that the individual Achilles tendon shape may influence possible injury later in life. It could help identify patients who may be at risk of Achilles tendon injury, and thereby design personalised approaches for treating and preventing Achilles tendinopathy.
The Achilles tendon has a unique structure comprising of three smaller sub-tendons which allows increased efficiency of movement. To enable smooth function, these three sub-tendons must work together by allowing a degree of slide between them. As we age, this efficiency naturally decreases, possibly accounting for more injuries later in life.
Results from the study revealed distinct mechanical properties in the sub-tendons in keeping with their mechanical demands from one individual to another. The mechanical behaviour of the Achilles tendon is hugely complex, and there were a few factors which affects this:-
# sub-tendon mechanical properties and shape
# Age-related changes affecting their sliding potential
This new research could affect the way we as clinicians treat and manage patients in the future as a way to injury prevention.