The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

NCAA News: Torn Achilles Tendon Takes The Spring Out of Minnesota’s Step

Posted by on Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

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The Minnesota Golden Gophers finished fourth in The Big Ten after losing in the quarterfinals to the Michigan Wolverines—who went on to beat Wisconsin on March 12th and become the 2017 Big Ten Champions. Now, the Wolverines are in the heart of the NCAA Championships, battling it out for the division win. You could chalk part of Minnesota’s loss to losing Akeem Springs—their point guard, who is also considered the “intellectual, emotional leader of the team”—to an Achilles rupture right when they needed him most.

How will the Minnesota Golden Gophers recover from the loss of Springs?
How will the Minnesota Golden Gophers recover from the loss of Springs? Image Source: Wikimedia user WxGopher.

What Happened To Akeem Springs?

Akeem Springs left the match during the second half of the quarterfinal victory against Michigan State on Friday, March 10th in Washington. He needed help getting to the locker room and couldn’t put pressure on his foot. He returned to the court on crutches. Strangely, he felt no pain, but when he tried to flex his foot while sitting, he was sure he’d torn the Achilles tendon in his right ankle.

Akeem Springs said he was “chasing somebody off a screen” when he “hopped a little”and “tried to replant.” It felt as though someone had stepped on his foot when he heard the loud pop. “I was confused,” he recalled. “If you watch the video, I turned around because I thought somebody threw something on the court. It was that loud.” He tumbled to the court and said it felt odd trying to stand up. “It felt like I was on a hill—like you’re walking down a hill, but only on your right foot. It didn’t hurt; I just couldn’t walk,” he said.

Coach Richard Pitino—who was named Big Ten Coach of the Year—said losing Springs was a “huge blow,” adding: “We’re a totally different team now with Akeem out. We’re going to have to start teaching some guys some different positions.” Averaging more than 8 points per game and leading the team in three-pointers, Springs’ disappearance from the lineup meant forty minutes of play for Dupree McBrayer and Nate Mason—who only scored two points between the two of them in their loss to Michigan State on Saturday. Springs was really a transformative figure for the team, which finished 8-23 last season.

Coach Pitino said his heart dropped for Springs. No one wants to end their college career with an injury like that. But Springs had an upbeat attitude, saying, “I gave myself two days to be sad. Now they’re over. I just look at it as time to work on everything, time to be there for my team.”

Torn Achilles Treatment

Sometimes the back of the heel cord hurts due to overstretching or small tears in the tissue. We can usually treat grade 1-2 Achilles injuries non-surgically. However, athletes have a slightly better chance of fully bouncing back to their careers without re-rupture if they get surgical repair. Achilles surgery requires a good six months before players can get back on their feet again and a total recovery of 9-12 months before returning to competitive levels.

With Achilles tear recovery, you can expect to:

  • Feel sleepy for a few days as the anesthesia leaves your system.
  • Eat a bland diet with increased liquids for a week or so.
  • Wait 24-48 hours for a shower.
  • Take pain medication and antibiotics for a week.
  • Use crutches or a walker to get around the house for a while.
  • Take two weeks off work, unless you have an active job—in which case, you’d better take 6-12 weeks.
  • Wear a walking boot for 6-12 weeks.
  • Participate in flexibility exercises to reduce scar tissue formation.
  • Ice for 10-20 minutes every hour, as needed.
  • Keep your feet propped up as much as you can.

Achilles Repair in NYC

The Center For Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine has offices in Manhattan (near Central Park) and White Plains. We specialize in treating professional and aspiring athletes in every stage of injury recovery—from diagnosis through chronic pain. We offer the latest technologies available in sports medicine, including ultrasound, platelet rich plasma, laser therapy, and more. Contact us to learn more about Achilles injury recovery.

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.