Finite Element Analysis of the Achilles Tendon While Running

DOI: 10.2478/amma-2013-0002

Introduction: The Achilles tendon is the most frequent recipient of traumatic injuries. The aim of this study is to identify and describe the varying load at ankle level and especially at the Achilles tendon’s insertion on the calcaneus.
Methods: We conducted a finite element analysis of the Achilles tendon while running, with the aim of revealing maximal loads and strains during a step in a running sequence. A 3D model of the Achilles tendon was built, based on MRI slides of a healthy, injury-free subject, who was asked to run over a force plate in 50 iterations. We used the recorded data to establish maximum loads and strains.
Results: We noticed a quick rise of the intra-tendinous load, from almost negligible while airborne and on first ground contact, to roughly 40 MPa in the pre-airborne phase, with possible implications in both treatment and post-injury recovery of Achilles tendon lesions.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that while early weight bearing and early exercise routines are a modern approach, care must be given in increasing the loads on the recovering region.


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