Beckham Achilles Tendon Rupture
Poor David Beckham’s dreams of a fourth consecutive World Cup appearance disappeared in a ‘SNAP’
Beckham’s Achilles Tendon Rupture happened in a game just by stepping backwards. There was no-one else involved.
I am going to look at footage of David Beckham’s Achilles Tendon Rupture and analyse it for you.
At the end of this post you will have an understanding of how the Achilles and Calf muscle work and why Becks tore his tendon.
Watch the video below a few times and then read on for a full explanation.
Gastrocnemius – a ‘two-joint’ muscle
The Gastrocnemius muscle has it’s lower attachment to the Achilles tendon through which it is attached to the heel bone or Calcaneum. This means that it crosses the ankle joint.
The upper attachments of the Gastrocnemius muscle are attached to the lower thigh bone (femur) on either side of the back of the knee.
This means that it also crosses the knee joint.
Actions of the Gastrocnemius muscle :-
- Helps to bend the knee acting with the Hamstring muscles
- Also helps to stop the knee from straightening under load
- Points the foot downwards at the ankle / raise you up on your toes when standing
- Also controls the heel as it lowers under bodyweight
The reason that ‘two-joint’ muscles and their tendons are prone to injury is precisely because they are acting on two joints at once.
This extra load can result in them almost working against themselves in an uncontrolled fashion – just like us men they can’t do two things at once!!
Take another look at the video of Beckham’s Achilles Tendon Rupture below. All David does is step backwards with no-one around him!
When I say “all he does …” He takes quite a big step backwards and his ankle joint is particularly bent which stretches his Calf and Achilles, however there is nothing particularly violent or sudden about his movement – is there?
However look at this picture below:
In this freeze-frame, if you look closely you can see that his heel is off the ground, his knee is slightly bent. I have put some red lines parallel to his foot, shin and thigh to demonstrate these angles.
Now if you think about what his Gastrocnemius muscle is doing here – you can see that it is keeping his heel off the ground and also helping to keep his knee slightly bent. (Just take my word for it that the muscle is helping to keep the knee bent for a few sentences and then I’ll explain it further.)
He would want to keep his knee bent in this situation because he is about to push off his back leg and he can’t push off effectively with a stiff knee. He wants to use his Quadriceps and Gluteal muscles to push off and to do this his hip and knee joints need to be slightly flexed (bent) and this is achieved by using his Hamstrings and Gastrocnemius muscles together.
Now look at the picture below. This is 80 milliseconds later (trust me I took it off the video editor!)
Poor Becks’ Achilles has just snapped!!
As a result he can’t hold his heel off the ground and also he can’t keep his knee flexed!
This means that instead of pushing off and moving forward, his knee shoots backwards to slightly beyond straight – what is called hyperextension.
It is the loss of function in his Gastrocnemius (because it’s lower attachment has become torn) that causes his knee to hyperextend.
Again I have included the red lines to help you see what is happening at the knee and ankle joints.
Why did David Beckham’s Achilles Tendon Rupture?
He possibly either had some pre-existing problem with his Achilles ( I recall he had a problem with the right Achilles in the World Cup against Portugal in July 2006 and it’s not uncommon to get both sides affected) or he has been particularly unlucky – but you can now see how much force can be generated by the calf muscles if they work against themselves for a fraction of a second at exactly the wrong moment!
Patients with a torn Achilles generally do not report significant pain – they hear a “SNAP” and they feel as though they have been struck from behind! If you watch David’s reaction carefully you see that his first thought is to look behind himself to see who has just kicked him! Watch his reaction in the video!!
He then sees that no-one is there and tries to continue with the game. He actually steps backwards again onto the left foot but this time his foot is turned outwards. This means that he actually doesn’t need to use his calf muscle or Achilles. It is only when he steps forwards and realises that there is no forward propulsion coming from his calf, and then when he goes to put his left foot down and realises that he can’t point his foot that he knows there is a major problem and his World Cup dream is over…
Watch the whole thing again with your new-found insight – watch for him looking round to see who “kicked” him and then especially look out for the knee snapping backwards when the Achilles tears.
The surgery apparently went really well and we all hope the he gets back to full fitness in a few months – but unfortunately not in time for the World Cup
Other Achilles Related PostsAnatomy of the Achilles Tendon
Achilles Tendon Rupture
Surgical Repair of Achilles Tendon Rupture
Ruptured Achilles Tendon and Non-Surgical Treatment
Calf Exercises - Achilles Tendon Stretches
Function of the Achilles Heel Tendon
This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 17th, 2010 at 1:32 am and is filed under Achilles Tendon / Calf. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.