Who would’ve thought that doing the Jerusalema challenge could pose a health risk? What a shocker. According to an Irish study published early this month, particular moves in this dance could damage the Achilles tendon.
Through worldwide lockdowns and travel restrictions last year, viral internet challenges and dances encapsulated the spirit of a global community. The #JerusalemaChallenge was no exception.
The hit by Master KG and Nomcebo became a global sensation following its 2019 release. People from across the world shared videos of themselves dancing along to the song.
Now the sudden shock: The study findings, which were published in the International Journal of Surgery Case Reports.
“The rise of this viral sensation was at the detriment of the Achilles tendons of three middle-aged gentlemen on whom we base our case series.”
The Achilles tendon is known to be particularly fragile and had long been prey to musculoskeletal damage because of intermittent, high-intensity activity, said the Irish researchers.
Over the space of ten days all three of these cases presented to the emergency department in Ireland’s Midlands Regional Hospital Tullamore (MRHT).
The first was a 50-year-old male, who presented to the emergency department with weakness and pain of his left lower limb following dancing the Jerusalema with his granddaughter for a charity video.
“Sudden loading of the forefoot in this position can momentarily create enough tension to rupture the tendon.”
“He described feeling like someone had ‘kicked the back of his leg’ as he pushed off during one of the movements and subsequently was unable to push off the ground to walk.”
The second patient was a middle-aged man (58) who had been dancing the Jerusalema with his granddaughter and felt a pop at the back of his right leg. This was followed by severe pain and weakness on plantarflexion.
Is well-meant exercise a danger?
Achilles tendon rupture is common in both the conditioned and deconditioned population. Viral dance challenges such as the #JerusalemaChallenge offers new and interesting patterns of injury.
Studies have shown that the overall incidence of Achilles tendon rupture is increasing worldwide and may be partly due to population aging, diabetes, hypertension and obesity.
The paper highlights the dangers inherent when well intentioned, but physically deconditioned individuals endeavour to perform a physical exercise which is deceptively demanding. “Going forward, viral challenges such as the Jerusalema may contribute to new and interesting mechanisms of injuries in our ‘weekend warrior’ cohort,” the study authors wrote.
The Achilles tendon ultimately withstands considerable tension and is at risk of rupturing at all ages during running, jumping and exercise that requires rapid changes in speed.