Are you familiar with the story of Achilles? He’s one of the greatest warriors in Greek Mythology. He was essentially unbeatable, except for his one vulnerability – his heel (or rather, his tendon). If you’ve ever experienced this injury, you know how it can literally stop you in your tracks. It’s common in runners, and is especially aggravated by sprinting and uphill running.
Don’t let this injury hold you back! There are a few essential stretching and strengthening exercises that can help you rehab your Achilles tendon and get back to your workouts pain-free.
What Is Achilles Tendinitis?
The Achilles tendon is the largest and strongest tendon in the body. It allows us to extend our ankle (plantar flexion) and push off. Achilles tendinopathy, or more generally known as Achilles tendinitis, occurs when the tendon fails to heal fully. At first, this may start as short-term tendinitis where the pain is mostly due to inflammation. However, if the pain and inflammation continues, tendinitis becomes a tendinosis, and neovascularization (growth of new blood vessels) occurs.
It is thought that much of the pain associated with Achilles tendinitis comes from the neural pathways associated with these new vessels. What this means is that, once you are dealing with tendinosis, you must be very careful about how you continue to exercise, as the problem then becomes a long-term condition. The collagen matrix in the tendon becomes more disrupted, and it can take weeks to months for the tendon to repair itself. Until it does, expect increased pain with exercise.
What Are The Common Causes?
There are four causes primarily associated with Achilles tendinitis. To prevent developing this injury, follow the tips included here.
1. Sudden Increase In Activity
Your body becomes accustomed to a specific amount of activity. If you suddenly and rapidly increase your activity level, your tendon may not be able to handle the excessive stress and will break down.
Tip: Always ramp up activity slowly to allow the tendon to acclimate.
The human body is always trying to heal itself, but when the rate of damage from overuse outweighs your ability to heal, your tendon will start to breakdown. This eventually leads to the long-term changes in your tendon associated with tendinosis.
Tip: Make sure to take enough rest between workouts, so your body has enough time to heal fully. Also, cross-train so that you strengthen your body in multiple ways.
3. Flat Feet & Poor Foot Mechanics
When you lose the arch in your foot, the biomechanical efficiency of your foot significantly drops. The action of “pushing off” with a stable midfoot that has a solid arch compared to a flat foot is like comparing lifting weights to lifting a floppy, old mattress. The old mattress might be the same weight, but it’s much harder to control as you lift.
Tip: If you have flat feet, consider using orthotics. If you have poor foot mechanics, incorporate some foot strengthening exercises and stretches to fix your mechanics.
4. Tight Ankles
Stiff ankles can also lead to poor foot mechanics. When the ankle joint is tight, it will cause increased stress to the rest of the foot, which may alter the alignment of your foot.
Tip: Include stretching exercises like the calf and soleus stretch to maintain proper ankle range of motion. You can also consider strength training in minimal shoes, or barefoot to encourage proper foot flexibility and mechanics.
What Are The Symptoms?
How do you know if you have Achilles tendinitis? Here’s what to look out for:
1. Pain or inflammation in the Achilles tendon, especially the day after exercise.
2. Pain in the Achilles tendon or the back of your heel when you stretch your ankle.
3. Pain in the Achilles tendon with walking or running.
4. Thickening of the tendon (a sign of prolonged tendinopathy).
Note: Pain in the middle of the tendon is more common. Some people have pain at the bottom of the Achilles where it inserts into the heel bone (known as insertional Achilles tendinitis). These symptoms often take longer and can be more difficult to treat.
Top Exercises To Fix Achilles Tendinitis
If you’ve determined that you have Achilles tendinitis, you might be wondering how to rehabilitate it. Follow these steps to manage and fix the inflammation and pain in your Achilles.
Rules Of Fixing Achilles Tendinitis
- Before exercising, minimize the pain! It is ok to exercise with pain, but the pain should not increase to the point where it’s unbearable.
- You should be able to walk normally without a limp.
- The next morning, the pain should not be worse than the previous morning.
- If you cannot walk without a limp, it is advisable to either rest, or use a heel lift, which helps to decrease the tensile load on the tendon.
- As the acute inflammation decreases, try to wean off the heel lift.
If you can follow those rules, try these 5 exercises:
1. Calf & Soleus Stretch
This is the first and easiest step. Loosen the gastrocnemius and soleus with these stretches. Make sure to drive your heel down as you bring the rest of your leg forward. By bending the knee, you can focus on stretching the ankle and soleus more.
Maintain the alignment of your foot with doming, and potentially orthotics. The doming exercise (also known as short foot) teaches you how to maintain your arch using your foot muscles. If you are unable to do this, then supplement this with arch support. You should be able to maintain this position whenever you stand.
3. 3 Position Single-Leg Balance
Challenge your balance (with proper foot mechanics) to help strengthen your foot muscles. Start with simply standing tall and balancing on one foot. Once you can do 10 seconds consistently, also try these two other positions: single leg squat and single leg hip hinge (pics). And then once you can do 3 of those consistently, grab a weight and perform halos while maintaining your balance.
4. Eccentrics & Time Under Tension
These are the most important exercises for rehabbing Achilles tendinopathy. When there is pain in the Achilles, most people are told to rest. This is good advice at first, however the calf muscles AND the tendon will also begin to atrophy. To avoid this, practice isometric and eccentric exercises.
Introduce isometric exercises first, where you load the tendon without movement. Just stand on one leg, and lean forward so that the weight is on the ball of your foot (heel should still be touching the floor). Hold this for 10 seconds at a time. Repeat for sets of 10. You should feel your calf working as you lean forward. This is a very physiologically safe exercise as there is no movement to the tendon. Ideally, you would perform this throughout the day for multiple sets of 10.
This exercise is generally considered the gold standard for tendon rehab. After you are comfortable with isometrics, transition to eccentrics, which add in motion mostly in only one direction.
Also known as negatives, you will rise onto the ball of your feet using the strength of both legs. Then, put all of your weight on your injured side, and SLOWLY lower yourself. Take at least 4 seconds to get back to the start position. You can even do this on a step and allow your heel to go lower than your forefoot (unless you have insertional pain at the heel bone). Once you hit bottom, use both legs to press back up, and then repeat.
Parameters: As this is your main exercise, perform as many sets as you can.
As your strength increases and you can do 3 sets of 15 without too much fatigue, you can wear a backpack with weights (or hold dumbbells). However, if this causes too much soreness the next day, decrease the weight.
5. Foam Roll
Lastly, help the calf muscle relax by spending a few minutes rolling it out with a foam roller. Try to get both the medial and lateral sides of your calf, and be patient – the more weight you apply to the calf, the slower you should roll.
The hardest part about exercising with Achilles tendinopathy is trying to find the right balance of exercise without flaring up the tendon, and rest.
Remember the basic rule: you should stop BEFORE the pain makes you stop, and your symptoms the next day should never be worse than the previous day. If you are able to do this while exercising to increase the strength and flexibility of your leg, then your tendon should slowly be able to recover and regenerate.
Try out these exercises, and be patient! If you have any other questions about rehabbing your Achilles tendon, reach out in the comments below.
Exercise 1 - Circumduction
To do this exercise – start by slowly turning your ankle to the left and draw circles with your foot as pain allows. Repeat this for 20-30 repetitions. Then slowly turn your ankle to the right and draw circles with your foot as pain allows. Repeat for 20-30 repetitions.
- Walking up and down ladders for work.
- Walking on uneven ground for long periods.
- Walking up and downhill.
- Gardening, or other activities involving squatting.
- Sporting activities involving jumping, running, sprinting.
Even fast walking would likely be ok - but if too painful, try using an insert in the heel (available at most drug stores). This shortens the length of the Achilles tendon and relieves some of the stress.
The more severe the tendinopathy, the less likely stretching would help. In fact, stretching results in further compression of the tendon at the irritation point, which actually worsens the pain.
With Achilles injuries, in general, swimming is fine and biking can work, but only if it's pain free. Running is a huge no-no and will make the injury worse. Ice it. Applying ice to the area for 15 minutes 4 to 6 times a day can help reduce inflammation and swelling.
It is important to remember that it may take at least two to three months for the pain of Achilles tendonitis to go away. If your pain does not improve, you may need surgery to remove inflamed tissue and abnormal areas of the tendon.
If you sit at work, you may be able to go back in 1 to 2 weeks. But if you are on your feet at work, it may take 6 to 8 weeks. If you are very physically active in your job, it may take 3 to 6 months.
Calf raises are essential in the treatment of both Achilles Tendonitis and Plantar Fasciitis. This is because both conditions result in unhealthy adaptation in your tendons. The way to reverse these adaptations is to load the tendons correctly. Both Achilles Tendonitis and Plantar Fasciitis are easy to diagnose.
Common causes of overloading include:
Increasing training intensity and duration without adequate warm-up and preparation. Tight calf muscles. Abnormal foot biomechanics and poor foot posture that exacerbates the pull on the calves and Achilles tendon. Inadequate warm-ups and recovery techniques.
There is very little evidence that stretching for the sake of it can prevent injury. As I mentioned above, when you stretch an Achilles and calf the Achilles tendon is moved towards the bone at the back of the heel. If you have an Achilles problem, this can compress the tendon and therefore irritate your symptoms.
This exercise strengthens the muscles that support your lower limb joints, so it's good for conditioning the feet and ankles for hard-impact activities. However, repeated impacts and little bounces can strain the Achilles tendon.
How To Foam Roll Achilles with TriggerPoint CHANNEL - YouTube
Pressure massage is a useful treatment for Achilles tendinopathy. Compared with eccentric exercise treatment, pressure massage gives similar results.
Most often, tendonitis is a result of overuse during work or athletic activities. Individuals who have recently added walking into their routines without building up to it may experience Achilles tendonitis. Symptoms include swelling, a burning pain, and tenderness during or after exercise.
Full body immersion cryotherapy and localized cryotherapy can both be used to speed up tendon injury healing. The extreme cold stimulates blood flow, tissue regeneration, and boosts tendon healing.
Any movement that takes the ankle into dorsiflexion (bending the toes up towards your shin) will stretch the calf and Achilles tendon. Common examples include the typical runner's calf stretch, pulling your foot back with a band, dropping your heels over the side of a step, and the downward dog in yoga.
Heat may be more helpful for chronic tendon pain, often called tendinopathy or tendinosis. Heat can increase blood flow, which may help promote healing of the tendon. Heat also relaxes muscles, which can relieve pain.
Care. If you have pain when you squat due to Achilles tendonitis you can do something about it. First you need to stop the activity that is causing it, whether it's weight lifting or running or something else. A full two weeks is optimal, but five days is sometimes enough to help.
Targeted compression in the arch and ankle increases blood circulation and provides premium support to prevent injury, reduce swelling, and alleviate pain associated with Plantar Fasciitis and the Achilles tendon.
Try running on a softer surface or track
A recent study in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy found that more stress is being placed on the Achilles Tendon when running on a treadmill compared to running overground. This is especially important for those with Achilles pain or injuries.
Achilles tendinitis is caused by repetitive or intense strain on the Achilles tendon, the band of tissue that connects your calf muscles to your heel bone. This tendon is used when you walk, run, jump or push up on your toes.
Improper shoes can often cause achilles tendonitis. High heels that do not allow the tendon to fully extend can, over time, cause the tendon to shorten, making it vulnerable to being overly stretched and torn.
Load changes: Sudden increases in load on the Achilles tendon can cause flare-ups when the tendon's not robust enough to cope with this change in demand. Examples include a quick change in activity level, change in terrain (hills vs.
Left untreated, the condition usually progresses to a degeneration of the tendon (Achilles tendonosis), in which the tendon loses its anatomic structure and is likely to develop tendon tears. In some cases, the degeneration may result in a complete rupture of the tendon.
5 Minute Achilles Tendon Self Massage (TO EASE YOUR PAIN)
Consequences. Cycling can benefit the Achilles tendon by building surrounding muscles to support the tissue. Injuries and pain occur when you get on a cycle after a long period of disuse and ride for long periods without the benefit of gradual strengthening.
With rest, Achilles tendonitis usually gets better within 6 weeks to a few months. To lower your risk of Achilles tendonitis again: Stay in good shape year-round. Drink plenty of water to flush out inflammation, and eat healthy whole grains, vegetables, and fruits to decrease inflammation.
It is important to remember that it may take at least two to three months for the pain of Achilles tendonitis to go away. If your pain does not improve, you may need surgery to remove inflamed tissue and abnormal areas of the tendon. If there is a bone spur irritating the tendon, surgery can be used to remove the spur.
There are a few essential stretching and strengthening exercises that can help you rehab your Achilles tendon and get back to your workouts pain-free.. The Achilles tendon is the largest and strongest tendon in the body.. Achilles tendinopathy, or more generally known as Achilles tendinitis, occurs when the tendon fails to heal fully.. Video: 4 BEST Exercises for Achilles Tendon Pain (Tendinopathy | Tendinitis | Tendonitis). If you have poor foot mechanics, incorporate some foot strengthening exercises and stretches to fix your mechanics.. Video: Achilles Tendonitis: Absolute Best Self-Treatment, Exercises, & Stretches. Pain or inflammation in the Achilles tendon, especially the day after exercise.. Pain in the Achilles tendon or the back of your heel when you stretch your ankle.. Pain in the Achilles tendon with walking or running.. Some people have pain at the bottom of the Achilles where it inserts into the heel bone (known as insertional Achilles tendinitis).. Video: FIX Achilles Tendonitis In 8 Simple Moves | Best Exercises For Achilles Tendon Pain. Video: Achilles Tendon Rehab - Exercise Loading Progression for Tendinitis | Tendinopathy | Rupture | Pain. The hardest part about exercising with Achilles tendinopathy is trying to find the right balance of exercise without flaring up the tendon, and rest.. Video: Why Common Achilles Tendonitis Treatment FAILS (and 3 exercises to do)
Exercises for Achilles Tendonitis Rehabilitation.. Achilles tendonitis heel pain is a condition that causes pain, swelling, and stiffness of the Achilles’ tendon.. This means that over time, damage to the Achilles tendon builds up and Achilles tendonitis heel pain can develop.. Ice treatment may be useful for pain control and may help to reduce swelling in the early stages of Achilles tendonitis.. Achilles tendon taping for Achilles tendonitis rehabilitation?. Now lift one foot off, balance yourself, and then lower the injured foot towards the floor.. Stand next to a chair, and try to balance yourself one foot.
Achilles tendonitis is a condition that causes pain along the back of the ankle or heel due to acute inflammation of the Achilles tendon.. This tendon is a thick, fibrous structure that connects your calf muscles (the gastrocnemius and the soleus ) to your heel bone (the calcaneus ).. Insertional tendonitis occurs when the pain is located where the Achilles meets the heel, while mid-portion tendonitis causes pain about 2 centimeters to 6 centimeters above this area.. Fortunately, most cases of Achilles tendonitis can be effectively treated with physical therapy exercises.. Tight calf muscles put extra strain on the Achilles tendon during daily movements and intense physical activity.. Studies show that stretching the calf muscles and the tendons around the ankle can help reduce the pain associated with insertional Achilles tendonitis.. The gastrocnemius is the largest calf muscle and makes up a portion of the Achilles tendon.. With the heel of the back foot on the ground, slightly bend the knee on the painful leg.. This type of technique has been found to be especially helpful in relieving the pain associated with mid-portion Achilles tendonitis.. It could also be that the exercises help you build power in the calf muscles, which reduces strain on the tendon.. Exercises that subject the Achilles tendon to higher amounts of weight are another option when treating mid-portion tendonitis.. These techniques, which utilize common pieces of equipment found in a gym or health club, have been found to be equally effective as eccentricstrengthening exercises at relieving Achilles tendonitis pain.. Using a leg press machine, this exercise helps to strengthen the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles and reduce your Achilles tendon pain.
When the Achilles tendon becomes inflamed, it is known as Achilles tendonitis.. If you’re looking for a low-impact workout that will help improve your Achilles tendonitis symptoms, we recommend trying out aquatic therapy or water aerobics.. Both of these exercises are great for strengthening your entire body without putting any strain on them, which can be beneficial if you suffer from Achilles tendonitis.. Although there is no option to ensure that Achilles tendonitis will not develop, we may reduce our chances of acquiring Achilles tendonitis by taking the necessary measures while participating in activities or playing games.. Recovery time often varies between four to six weeks for mild tendonitis and up to eight weeks or more for severe Achilles tendon strains.
Aim to hold the stretch for 30 seconds.. Aim to hold the stretch for 30 second.. Slowly raise the heel up from the floor of your painful ankle so that the weight is going through the ball of that foot.. Slightly bend the knee of the leg of the painful.. Hold this position for 60 seconds.. Once 60 seconds then switch feet position and repeat for a further 60 seconds.. Step forwards with your painful ankle.
Stretching your calves feels great most of the time.. But if the problem with Achilles Tendon pain was simply that your calf muscles needed to be a little longer, then we would all be fixed by now and running along without that agonizing heel stiffness & pain every morning wouldn’t we?. this “eccentric” exercise (when a muscle is lengthening/stretching and resisted at the same time) is a way to introduce some mild strength-promoting work to a healing achilles tendon.. Calf raise negatives like these variations are a great way make sure your achilles tendons are bulletproofed against this kind of stress!. I’d love to hear from you about your struggles AND success stories dealing with Achilles Tendon problems!. CrossFit Jan 19, 2022 3 Things to Try For Your Knee Pain (None Are Stretching!). Jan 19, 2022 Sep 23, 2019 5 Movements to Fix Your Achilles Tendon Problems WITHOUT Stretching Sep 23, 2019 Aug 14, 2019 How to Get Rid of Hamstring Problems WITHOUT Stretching Aug 14, 2019 Jul 15, 2019 It's OK to Stop Stretching for Tendonitis!
Achilles tendonitis exercises are one of the best treatment options, whether you try them at home or with the guidance of a professional.. Continue for up to 10 repetitions before switching direction and drawing a circle counterclockwise.. This simple range of motion exercise will address the stiffest ankle motion associated with achilles tendon pain: dorsiflexion.. Sit in a comfortable chair and place the band around the ball of the foot (not the toes).. Grab a balance pad or start by performing these exercises on a stable, flat surface to improve your balance and lower leg strength.. If you are struggling with moderate to severe pain and your body feels totally out of sync, completing a round of physical therapy is a great option.
Recovery exercises for Achilles tendon injury should focus on strengthening the muscles and tendons around the affected tendon.. The Achilles tendon is a thick band of connective tissue in the back of the leg that connects the calf muscles to the heel.. When we walk, our calf muscles work together with the Achilles tendon to flex our ankle and hit the ground with our heel.. These can range from minor injuries like an overstretched or pulled calf muscle or posterior tibialis muscle, which are both common causes of irritation in the back of your lower leg and foot, to more serious injuries like severe damage to your Achilles tendon itself (tendonitis).. The best recovery exercises for Achilles tendon injury are those that strengthen the calf muscles and the Achilles tendon.. This simple exercise strengthens the muscles in your calf and Achilles tendon and helps improve your balance as well.. Walking is an excellent exercise to strengthen the muscles around the Achilles tendon.. It’s an exercise you can do to strengthen the muscles and tendons around your Achilles tendon.. This exercise will help you strengthen the calf muscles and Achilles tendon while also increasing blood flow to those areas.. Walking is an excellent exercise for strengthening your calf and Achilles tendon.. Strengthening the calf muscles helps prevent injury because it provides more padding for the Achilles tendon.. This can be done through targeted exercises that focus on strengthening your calf muscles and Achilles tendon.
Just like your squat and lunge mechanics, this stretch should be done with optimal alignment of the knees and toes.. The most cost-effective treatment for patellar tendinitis is physical therapy.. You can still work on your flexibility with the specified stretches, and you can start strengthening the musculature in the hips and ankles.. The key is in limiting movement of the knees in front of the toes when your knee is in pain.. While your knee may be behind the toes in these exercises, your weight is very far behind the knees, and thus placing a large load on the knee joint.. It’s more important to make sure that your knees are in proper alignment with your 2nd or 3rd toes.
Other conditions that can affect the area include Achilles tendonosis , or micro-tears in the tendon, and an Achilles tendon rupture, a partial or complete tear.. The runner’s stretch, or calf stretch , will provide relief by loosening the tendon.. Like the runner’s stretch, this exercise helps mobility by reducing stress on the Achilles tendon.. Another Achilles tendon stretch is the heel drop.. Do this stretch with the leg that has an Achilles tendon issue.. If you lift your heel, the Achilles tendon won’t stretch properly.. Stretching is just one part of Achilles tendonitis recovery.. It’s best talk to a doctor or physical therapist before doing any type of Achilles tendon stretch or exercise.. If you have Achilles tendonitis or other Achilles tendon issues, you can do stretches to help recovery.. Talk to your doctor before doing Achilles tendon stretches and strengthening exercises.
Exercises For Achilles Tendonitis: 3-Step Treatment Plan To Reduce Discomfort Naturally | Feel Good Life ›
Achilles tendonitis is the inflammation of the tendon in the back of your ankle.. And while rest initially helps the ankle pain, Achilles tendonitis may turn into other Achilles injuries if left untreated.. The longer you have experienced Achilles pain, the more likely it is that scar tissue is causing your stiffness and struggles.. After massaging the affected area, it’s important to introduce some gentle stretching to your calf muscles.. This means the longer you can hold a certain stretch, the more comfortable your tendons become in that position.. You should feel a stretch in the back of the leg and into the Achilles tendon.
View Larger Image. Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!. Sarah Warren is a Certified Clinical Somatic Educator, Registered Somatic Movement Educator, and owner of Somatic Movement Center.. She has helped people with conditions such as chronic back pain, neck and shoulder pain, hip and knee pain, sciatica, and scoliosis become pain-free by practicing Thomas Hanna's method of Clinical Somatic Education.. Warren is the author of the book The Pain Relief Secret , which explains the science behind why learned muscular patterns lead to chronic pain and degeneration, and how Clinical Somatics retrains the nervous system, alleviating many common pain conditions.
It connects the heel bone to the calf muscle and helps raise the heel off the ground while a person is walking.. People can perform this exercise by following the steps below:. Stand on both feet with the legs straight.. To perform this exercise:. The Achilles tendon is in the back of the lower leg, and it connects the calf muscle to the heel bone.. Achilles tendon ruptures and Achilles tendinitis are common and often painful.. Stretching the tendon can help people recover from Achilles tendon damage by loosening the heel cord and increasing mobility.. Anyone who thinks that they may have ruptured the Achilles tendon or finds that the pain does not get better over time should speak to a doctor.