On March 11, 2017, University of Washington CB Sydney Jones suffered an Achilles tear during defensive back drills practice on Pro Day at the school. Ironically, the injury occurred as Jones participated int eh final drill of the day. Jones was projected to be a first-round NFL draft pick. The injury will likely affect his eligibility at this time, but he is dedicated to focusing on a full recovery and moving forward from what he refers to as "a minor bump in the road".
An Achillles tear occurs when the Achilles tendon - the largest tendon in the body - is stretched to the point of pulling, or tearing, loose from the calf area, or when an injury causes a tear in the tendon mass itself. There are a number of ways this type of injury can occur:
- Physical activity level is increased suddenly and/or too quickly
- Physical activity is overdone
- Wearing shoes, such as high heels or wedges, that put an undue strain on the tendon or stretch it in an abnormal manner
- An individual has fallen arches, also known as flat feet. This condition causes the arch of the foot to collapse with the impact of each step when walking, which stretches the Achilles tendon and can cause damage/injury.
Jones' injury was most likely caused by excessive activity or a quick shift or increase in physical activity.
The time frame for a full recovery from an Achilles tear varies based on the severity of the injury. A medical examination will determine the extent of the injury as well as the necessary treatment plan. A mild to moderate Achilles tear will generally heal on it's own under a doctor's care and with the proper regimen of home care. However, a more severe injury may require surgery to remove excess tissue and repair the tendon itself, and/or a cast for a period of time (usually 6 to 10 weeks).
Less serious Achilles injuries require the following attention in order to heal fully and properly:
- ICE - The injured area should be treated with an ice pack every 3-4 hours for 20-30 minutes at a time in order to reduce swelling and alleviate pain. Repeat for 2-3 days until pain is gone.
- REST THE INJURY - Avoid putting any weight on the leg or foot. It may be necessary to use crutches.
- ELEVATE THE LEG - When sitting or lying down, prop the injured leg on a pillow.
- COMPRESSION - Wrap the ankle and lower leg with an elastic bandage to keep swelling to a minimum.
- MEDICATION - An anti-inflammatory, non-steroidal pain medication with help with pain and swelling. Read the label and follow all directions carefully for safest and most effective results.
- STRENGTHENING EXERCISES - As recommended by your doctor, practice stretching exercises or see a physical therapist or other specialist as directed.
An Achilles tear like the one Sidney Jones suffered is a common one among athletes. It will likely require some amount of specialized medical care, given that he will continue on with his physically active lifestyle. With time and proper care, there is every reason to believe that he will make a full recovery and continue on with his promising football career.