Even proper basketball equipment may not prevent Achilles tear

As soon as he collapsed to the floor in an NBA game earlier this week, Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chauncey Billups knew that he would be sidelined for a significant period of time. An MRI soon after the incident confirmed Billups' fears – he had torn his Achilles tendon.

"I knew when I went down and tried to get up and I couldn't feel anything that this was bad," Billups told Yahoo Sports. "I had never felt anything like that before. It was completely non-impact. Nobody hit me. Nobody kicked me. Nobody was around…I'm probably still in a little bit of shock over this."

The Achilles tendon is the most commonly injured tendon in the body because it is used so often. This strong tissue connects the calf muscles of the leg with the heel bone, and it is integral to all activities involving the feet. Tendinitis, or simply pain in the Achilles, is fairly common, but a torn tendon is usually only seen in middle-aged men because tendons wear thin with age.

Achilles tendon injuries are rare in children, although certain genetic disorders and preexisting conditions can cause some children to be susceptible to pain in the Achilles if they work out excessively or do not train properly.

Runners and athletes who play badminton, basketball and tennis are most likely to experience Achilles tendon injuries because these sports involve jumping and sudden bursts of speed. But, any instance where an individual stretches their heel could lead to a tear of the tendon.

Coaches can help youth athletes avoid Achilles injuries by encouraging regular practice and exercise to keep the tendon stretched. Players should also wear proper shoes that protect the foot and ankle. Other forms of basketball apparel available from online vendors, such as basketball arm sleeves, can help prevent serious elbow injuries.