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Kevin Durant and his Torn Achilles Tendon

Kevin Durant went down like someone hit him in the back of the leg. This is a very typical finding in acute Achilles tear injuries.

What is the Achilles tendon and what is the function?

The Achilles tendon is made up of 2 muscles – the gastrocnemius and the soleus. They come to together to make up the Achilles tendon and insert on the back of the heel bone. With Achilles contraction, the heel bone gets pulled up which allows the ankle and foot to plantar flex (move downward). This motion is necessary for walking, running and jumping.

How can an elite athlete tear the strongest tendon in the body?

Athletes put a lot of stress and strain on their muscles and joints. When the muscle tightens it also lengthens which happened to Kevin Durant on the basketball court. The stress of the tendon and pressure from the basketball court caused his tendon to rupture.

Why did Kevin Durant need surgery?

The Achilles tendon is not very elastic and after a rupture the tendon retracts. The goal of surgery is to put the tendon back together again (re-approximate) under the approach stress and tension of the non-injured side. Surgery is the most predictable way to gain function of the tendon and get KD back on the court.

What is the surgical recovery?

Achilles tendon repair’s recovery takes several months and potentially up to a year to get back to physical activity. Unfortunately, up to 40% of athletes who tear their Achilles tendon do not return to the field/court.

Fun Fact:

Durant’s teammate DeMarcus Cousins tore his Achilles tendon in 2018.

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