When we watched five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant fall with an Achilles rupture, it wasn't that the injury itself seemed so surprising. More shocking was how it happened -- not by a jump shot or a leaping rebound, just a simple push-off step while dribbling past a defender.

Bryant said as much on his highly shared Facebook rant, apparently written from his hospital bed later that evening. "All the training and sacrifice just flew out the window with one step that I've done millions of times!" Bryant wrote.

The fact is, as a 34-year-old male professional athlete, Bryant is in the unfortunate sweet spot to suffer an Achilles rupture. Men are five times more likely to blow out their Achilles than women, according to the Mayo Clinic. You're also at your highest risk between the ages of 30 and 50, says orthopedic surgeon Brian Donley, M.D., president of the Cleveland Clinic's Lutheran Hospital. "At that point, your Achilles has seen a lot of wear and tear, but you’re still young enough to be participating in active, aggressive sports," Donley says.

Most ruptures occur in a 1 1/2-inch section of the Achilles where blood flow is the weakest and your body is least able to repair small tears to the collagen fibers inside the tendon, Donley says. "You still need sufficient force at the right place and the right time to blow out the biggest tendon in your body," says Bill Hartman, P.T., C.S.C.S, co-owner of Indianapolis Fitness and Sports Training. As we saw with Kobe, where he scored 34 points and played all 45 minutes of the game before the injury happened, you'll likely feel no pain or have any warning that it's about to blow.

(No matter if you're a pick-up ball player or a seasoned athlete, our Injury Prevention Workout Plan will keep you pain-free and in the game.)

But don't take that to mean an Achilles rupture is inevitable. "Unequivocally, it's completely preventable," says Kelly Starrett, D.P.T, the author of Becoming a Supple Leopard: The Ultimate Guide to Resolving Pain, Preventing Injury, and Optimizing Athletic Performance. Take these steps to help prevent a blowout:

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