The Achilles tendon is the largest and strongest tendon in the body. Strengthening the tendon can help improve athletic performance and may also reduce the risk of a rupture of this tendon. Plyometrics are a form of exercise that may be able to improve the strength of the Achilles tendon, but they should be done with care because they can cause injury.
The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscle to the heal bone. This tendon causes the heal to be pulled upward whenever the calf muscles contract. As a result, this tendon is used whenever a person is walking, running, jumping or standing on toes. The strength and stiffness of this tendon helps determine athletic performance. Strength of this tendon is also needed to prevent tendon rupture.
Plyometrics is a training technique that uses jumping exercises to improve muscle strength and explosiveness. Plyometric exercises that target the lower body include standing jumps, jumping up and down off a box, jumping up steps and hopping on one foot. One of the advantages of plyometric exercises is that they mimic the actions in many sports, such as skiing, volleyball, basketball, boxing and tennis.
Plyometric Benefits for Achilles Tendon
Plyometric exercises may be able to strengthen the Achilles tendon. A study from the University of Nantes that was published in a 2010 issue of "The Journal of Applied Physiology" found that plyometric exercises improved the stiffness and efficiency of the Achilles tendon. Another study, performed by the School of Sport Science, Exercise and Health at the University of Western Australia and published in a 2013 issue of "The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research" found that plyometric exercises may increase the size of the Achilles tendon. This means that plyometrics may be able to help improve the performance of the Achilles and possible reduce the risk of injury.
Risks of Plyometrics
Plyometric exercise programs should be used with caution for people with joint problems or who aren't in good physical condition. There is also concern that plyometric exercises may place large amounts of stress on the joints, which can lead to injuries of the ankle, knee and other joints. However, with proper training and supervision, plyometrics can be a safe form of exercise.
- WebMD: Achilles Tendon
- WebMD: Plyometrics
- Brian Mac Sports Coach: Plyometrics
- Journal of Applied Physiology: Plyometric Training on Achilles Tendon Stiffness and Dissipative Properties
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Effects of Plyometric Training on Achilles Tendon Properties and Shuttle Running During a Simulated Cricket Batting Innings
- Photo Credit Ryan McVay/Lifesize/Getty Images