THE EFFECT OF AN IRONMAN TRIATHLON ON ACHILLES TENDON STRUCTURE: A CASE REPORT

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Abstract

Background

Transient changes in Achilles tendon structure are known to occur post exercise, it is unknown whether completing an ironman affects tendon structure.

Objective

Assess the effect of an ironman on Achilles tendon structure.

Design

Case study of a subject completing an ironman triathlon. The study utilised Ultrasound tissue characterization (UTC) scanning to quantify tendon structure pre and post activity. The UTC scan was completed 1 day prior to the Ironman and on day 2 by one examiner. The quantification of the UTC scan was completed by two experienced users who were blinded to the scan order.

Setting

UK University.

Patients (or Participants)

49 year old male subject.

Interventions (or Assessment of Risk Factors)

An ironman triathlon involves 3.86 km swim, 180.25 km bicycle ride and a marathon (42.20 km).

Main Outcome Measurements

UTC quantification of Achilles tendon using percentage volume of each of the four echo types, tendon volume and mean cross-sectional area (mCSA).

Results

Data is presented as the mean of the two examiners results. The mCSA increased by 10.7 mm2 and 5.4 mm2 on the right and left Achilles respectively. Tendon volume of the right Achilles tendon increased by 321.8 mm3 and whilst the left increased by 162.9 mm3. Data for the right and left leg were combined with the mean change in percentage of the different echo types presented post intervention. Echo type I increased by 1.7%, echo type II increased by 0.6% whilst echo type III and IV reduced by 1.7% and 0.6% respectively.

Conclusions

The results indicate a change in Achilles tendon volume, mCSA and percentage of the different echo types post ironman. This preliminary study suggests that further work is required to assess alterations in Achilles tendon post ironman, specifically this work should determine if this change is observable in a larger group of athletes and whether this change is transient in nature.

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