Achilles tendonitis can put a damper on your athletic career. Trying to play through such an injury can prove disastrous, but the right exercises can help you heal.
The perfect recovery regimen combines flexibility and strength. Here are ten Achilles tendonitis exercises to try the next time your heel starts to ache.
1. Stair Calf Stretch
If you have a two-or-more story home, you’re in luck, but any ledge will do. You can also use a plyo box to get the desired elevation.
Ensure that the pads of your feet are supported with only your heels extending over the edge. Use the rail or a wall for balance support. Gently lower one heel at a time just below the box’s level, stopping when you feel a mild stretch.
2. Seated Calf Stretch
Here’s a lazy stretch you can do without getting up from your chair. You can perform this move at work or home.
All you need to do is extend one leg directly in front of you. If you have strong quadriceps, try extending both at once, using your arm power to support your back. Curl the top of your feet and toes toward your body’s midline.
3. Runner’s Stretch
If your marathon training left you with Achilles tendonitis, try this stretch to ease your ache. Stand up tall and get into a lunge position, keeping your back leg straight behind you. Lean forward until you feel a stretch in your calves.
As you recover, you can make this move dynamic by lifting and lowering on your back toes.
Such movements take your body through a full range of motion, and being able to do so without pain offers a valuable clue as to when you can return to the field.
4. Toe-to-Wall Stretch
You’ll have to get cozy with the wall for this movement. However, if you have a bit of a prodigious belly, you can use a counter or the edge of your couch if it is flush with the floor.
Stand next to the wall with your toes touching it. Lean forward so that you can kiss that supporting structure. If using furniture, do the same thing, choosing one low enough to make the move work for your unique physique.
5. Towel Calf Stretch
If you have extra money, you can invest in a set of yoga straps to supercharge your flexibility training. However, you don’t need to get a branded gadget. You can produce the same results from rolling up a standard bath towel and similarly using it.
To perform this Achilles tendonitis exercise, loop the towel around your toes and use it to ever-so-gently pull the top of your foot toward your body’s midline.
6. Standing Heel Raises
You need to strengthen your Achilles tendon while keeping it flexible, and you can sneak in a set of standing heel raises anywhere. All you have to do is raise on your tiptoes.
However, even if you have no balance challenges when you aren’t injured, you should use an assistive device to prevent further injury when nursing Achilles tendonitis. A ruptured tendon can have you down for four to six months before you can return to regular activity — don’t let your ego unnecessarily bench you.
7. Seated Heel Raises
Maybe you saw this funky machine at the gym, but you don’t need a membership if you have a set of hand weights and a chair. Plus, the weight of the apparatus might be too much for you to take if you are freshly injured.
Sit in a chair and place a set of light dumbbells just behind your knees. Keeping your core engaged, lift your heels as far off the floor as possible without undue strain.
8. One-Legged Bent-Leg Heel Raise
Here’s another funky-looking move that will strengthen your calves and soleus. You’ll want to use a chair for balance — it’s easier to grip the back than to press against a wall.
With both feet on the floor, bend both legs slightly and lift one leg off the floor. Keeping your toes pointing forward, flex your calf to raise your body as high as you can without pain. Perform several repetitions before switching sides.
9. Swimming Flipper Kicks
Do you have access to a pool? Swimming is the ideal cardiovascular exercise while you recover, and you can strengthen your Achilles tendon with the help of flippers.
Don a pair of swim fins before you hit the water. You’ll increase your ankle flexibility, but you’ll barely notice — you’ll be too busy marveling at how quickly you move through the water.
10. Pool Edge Flipper Kicks
You don’t have to lose the benefit of flippers if you don’t care to get your hair wet. You can still reap the Achilles tendonitis healing benefits by sitting in the water and kicking your fins.
You might do better in the kiddie pool for this one, as you can lean back and support yourself on the water’s edge. However, if mobility issues prohibit you from walking into the pool, many facilities offer special chairs that lower you in for your workout.
Try These 10 Exercises for Your Achilles Tendonitis
If you have Achilles tendonitis, you need a combination of strength and flexibility training to return to full functionality. Please try the ten exercises above to recover and prevent future injury.