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The Achilles tendon undergoes a great deal of stress in bodybuilding.
The Achilles tendon undergoes a great deal of stress even with just functional, everyday movements. In the world of bodybuilding, the tendon undergoes even more stress between regular strength training, hours of cardio and competition itself. Understanding when the tendon is being used and taking the right precautions can allow you to train aggressively while avoiding injury.
The Achilles tendon, or calcaneal tendon, is the strongest, largest tendon in the body, capable of sustaining 3.9 times a person's bodyweight. Your Achilles tendon connects the muscles of your calf with the calcaneal bone of your heel and allows for the motion of pointing your toe. Injury to the tendon most commonly occurs with extreme dorsiflexion, when your ankle bends and allows your knee to come over your toes.
Compound movements help develop muscle symmetry as well as size. Squats, deadlifts and lunges are staple compound movements used in bodybuilding to develop your lower body. All three exercises use your Achilles tendon heavily. Both the starting position of the deadlift and the bottom position of the squat place your foot in extreme dorsiflexion with your knees bent over your foot. Stationery and walking lunges place the foot of your rear leg in extreme dorsiflexion as well.
Posing is a vital part of bodybuilding. According to legendary bodybuilding champion Arnold Schwarzenegger, your physique doesn't matter if you're not skilled at showing it off. Though posing may seem to incorporate isometric contractions exclusive of the Achilles tendon, the tendon remains under tension for the majority of a posing sequence. Even in neutral position, you should be slightly on the balls of your feet to keep your quadriceps and shins flexed. Your Achilles tendon is active in allowing you to pivot for your quarter turns as well as maintaining tension in your legs at all times. Of the compulsory poses, your Achilles tendon is most obviously active in the side-chest and side-triceps poses where your forward leg is positioned in a half squat.
Injury to your Achilles tendon can sideline your training and, potentially, take you out of competition if it happens at the wrong time. In order to avoid strains, tears and ruptures of your tendon be sure to always warm up with at least 10 minutes of mild cardio. Stretch before working your lower body and use a warm-up set with lighter weight to get your blood flowing to your connective tissue. Wrap your knees for added stability when performing compound movements for your lower body. Weak knees or knee pain can force the muscles of your lower back and ankles to compensate for incorrect form, thereby endangering the Achilles tendon. Should you feel discomfort or pain in your tendon either during or after your workout, ice the area immediately. Consult your health care provider if pain persists.