I came home from work last night at 9:15, all ready to watch one of my favorite shows, So You Think You Can Dance. I saw the beginning of the Bollywood routine, which was supposed to be a duet between AdeChike and Alex Wong, my pick to win the competition. However, AdeChike had to perform the routine with the choreographer's assistant since Alex had possibly ruptured his Achilles tendon during rehearsal. The step that caused the injury was the repeated jump straddle splits. An MRI had been performed, but as of the live show last night, the results were not known. Alex was placed in the bottom three because of his injury.
A ruptured tendon can be devastating for anyone, but especially more so for a dancer. The Achilles tendon is the band of tissue that runs from your calf muscle to your heel and is responsible for the "push-off" action when you walk and raise your heel. It is also known as the "heel cord". When you rupture your Achilles tendon you have created either a full or partial tear of the muscle. This is caused by stretching the tendon past its ability, forceful jumping (like Alex was doing) or pivoting. When Alex pushed off for his jump, he most likely pivoted and exerted too much force, and upon landing, collapsed on the floor.
Besides dancers, Achilles tendon ruptures can happen to serious athletes as well as what are known as "weekend warriors"- middle-age people who play sports on the weekend.
Those who experience Achilles tendon ruptures may show the following signs or symptoms:
1. A sudden, severe pain in the calf muscle or in the heel bone area. This pain is often so severe that people will collapse on the ground in obvious pain.
2. A popping or snapping sound or sensation.
3. Swelling in the area of occurrence, typically between the calf and the heel.
4. Problems walking or rising on the toes.
If you think you have a ruptured Achilles tendon you should seek medical attention from a podiatrist immediately. While you are waiting to see a medical professional, you should perform R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) to reduce swelling and prevent any further damage.
During your appointment with a podiatrist, the doctor will ask how you injured yourself and if this injury has happened in the past. They will check the range of motion of the injured foot and compare it to the uninjured foot, as well as check the degree of the tear. Patients will exhibit a difficulty pushing down, like you would when pressing the gas pedal in a car. Some patients, like Alex, will require a MRI to determine the exact extent of the injury.
Unfortunately, it appears that Alex's injury will require surgery due to his dance background and his hopes of continuing a professional dance career. Those who qualify for non-surgical treatments are patients with minor ruptures, those who are less active and have conditions that would prevent them from having surgery. Treatments at this level include casts, walking boots or braces to limit the patient's movement. Surgery will be beneficial for Alex, since it will help him regain strength in his push-off, necessary for any dance allegro movement. He would be placed either in a cast or walking boot and be immobilized for several months while he recovers.
The results of the MRI should be back within the next couple of days. Hopefully it is less serious than we think and he can get back to competing!
This article is written from the perspective of Jenn, Dr. Tina Boucher's project manager. Jenn is a ballet dancer in the Connecticut area and blogs for Dr. Boucher on