Every athlete cringes when hearing the word “Achilles injury”. For most athletes this injury tends to be the ending of your career. All your ambitions, hopes, and dreams put to a halt.
Achilles tear or rupture is one of the hardest injuries to come back from. Why? Surgery can be needed to fix the tendon, let alone the recovery time is six to ten weeks. All athletes are different so recovery times may vary
Standard recovery time for this injury breaks down into segments. During weeks two to four of the recovery process patients learn how to walk and bare weight on their new tendon in a boot. Between weeks four to eight, the recovery process is walking with out a boot as well as being able to stand on one leg with the repaired tendon, slowly working on the flexibility of the foot. After the week eight, patients should be able to do different flexibility and stabilizing exercises like squats and lunges.
The Achilles tendon attaches the calf muscle to the bone in the heel. This tendon allows you to extend your foot and point it to the ground. Tendinitis can cause the Achilles tendon to swell and be painful. Severe Achilles injuries cause too much force on the tendon which leads to a complete tear or rupture. The Achilles tendon is the longest tendon in the body.When athletes rupture or tear this tendon it is because of a sudden stop in motion or impact on landing from a jump.
This injury has plagued several basketball players through the years.
Between 1988-2011, 18 NBA(National Basketball Association) basketball players have had an Achilles rupture. Of those 18 players, seven never returned to the game. For the 11 who did return, the question was to what capacity did they return to? When they recovered, did they play like they did before they were hurt? Or was their a decline in their performance because of their injury?
Detroit Pistons guard, Chancy Billups, tore his Achilles in 2012, since then he has not returned to his former playing ability. Yes, he is older now after his injury but his points averaged and minutes played have gone down. Many argue that Billups, age 37, is already on his decline in the NBA and retirement is soon to follow. Nevertheless, he is still playing for the Pistons even though his numbers are not as good as they once were.
“One of the Greatest Small Men”, Isaiah Thomas, led the Detroit Pistons to back-to-back championships in the late 1980’s. He retired at the age of 32 after he ruptured his Achilles tendon, never to return to the game.
Elton Brand played for the Los Angeles Clippers when he ruptured his Achilles at the age of 28. Before his injury, Brand had made several all-star appearances at the All-Star game. Since his return to the NBA, he averages seven points and has not made an All-Star game appearance to this day.
Dominique Wilkins made an All-Star appearance and helped lead his team to conference semi-finals. In 1992, he ruptured his Achilles. Many thought that this would be the end of his career but instead Wilkins returned from him injury like he had never left. He averaged 30 points a game and became the 17th player in NBA history to wrack up 20,000 points.
Kobe Bryant, 35, arguably one of the best players in the league, ruptured his Achilles in April of 2013. Many fans and spectators anticipate the return of their beloved Los Angeles Laker. Kobe is expected to return to the game in December. “I don’t know how I’m going to come back from this injury … but I’m going to stay with it until I figure it out,” Bryant said to Sports Illustrated.
Many NBA greats have decided not to return to the game or return never getting back to that level of skill they had before the injury. As the official NBA season is underway, its very possible that Bryant will make people forget that he ever left the court in April.