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  • Writer's pictureDr. Bruce

Injury Report: The Offensive line: the Achilles Heel?

The Achilles heel or Achilles tendon was a significant part of mythology with Achilles being dipped in the River Styx which made him invulnerable to injury except where his mother held him by the heel. This area of weakness was what eventually led to him losing in battle. More recently an Achilles tendon injury was an abrupt end to an athlete’s career. But now with surgery and a lengthy rehabilitation players are able to return to professional sports.

The Achilles tendon is the largest, longest and strongest tendon in the body. It attaches the calf muscles to the heel of the foot and allows a person to walk, jump, and tiptoe. An abrupt stretch of the tendon can lead to a partial or complete tear of the tendon. A partial tear in a normal person can be treated conservatively but an athlete may require surgery for a partial tear. A complete tear of the tendon is almost always corrected by surgery even in a non athlete and certainly needs surgery for an athlete to resume athletic training and sports activities.

After an injury with a brief period of rest, ice ,anti inflammatory medication the tendon is surgically repaired using strong sutures. Because tendons don’t have a specific blood supply they take much longer to heal. Initially post surgery there is a period of casting and no weight bearing activity. This usually lasts several weeks. After the initial period of rest and healing a gradual increase in weight bearing activity can be done but usually with a heeled boot to keep tension off the tendon. Eventually the heel of the boot can be reduced and gradual stretching can be done to allow the foot to be flat on the ground. From this point on the athlete must work on flexibility, stretching, strengthening and proprioception(ability of the brain to know where the foot position actually is). The last phase takes months of intensive therapy.

For an offensive lineman like our own Ike Boettger this whole process usually takes about 12 months and frequently takes longer. Although Ike was back practicing and even played a little he obviously wasn’t back to full strength and speed at the end of last season. With another off season of rehabilitation we should see him return to pre injury form this year and be contending for a starting spot at guard. This could be a low cost upgrade for our cash strapped team. At the minimum he would be a solid backup for the interior line which would allow for flexibility during the draft and free agency.

Let me know what you think about this injury report and send me any questions you might have. As always…Go Bills!


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