Our body has multiple tendons that play a crucial role in helping us move normally. These tendons are made up of connective tissue. One such tendon is the Achilles tendon, which connects the soleus and gastrocnemius muscles to the heel bone, also known as the calcaneus. If you hurt this tendon, then you could develop Achilles tendonitis, a condition that’s associated with pain, stiffness, and inflammation. However, there are a couple of Achilles tendonitis exercises that can help you recover quickly and reduce your symptoms. Let’s take a closer look at these exercises.

What is Achilles tendonitis?

First, it’s important to have a good idea of the Achilles tendon to understand the condition. This tendon forms a connection between your muscles and your heel bone. It begins in your calves and extends toward your heel.

Here’s an interesting fact: the Achilles tendon is considered to be one of the strongest tendons[1] in your entire body!

It’s a tendon that plays a vital role in your ability to jump up and down, as well as to run around.

Achilles tendonitis refers to a condition that develops when you injure this tendon.

Types of Achilles tendonitis

There are two major types[2] of Achilles tendonitis, each with similar principles but unique effects.

Noninsertional Achilles tendonitis refers to a condition that occurs when the center area of the Achilles tendon is injured. Tiny tears usually affect the tendon at this point, causing it to become thicker, and swelling may also occur. This condition is more common in active people, particularly those who engage in sports regularly.

The other type is known as insertional Achilles tendonitis, which occurs when the lower region of your tendon gets damaged. This type happens with tears and a thickening of the tissue, and you’ll notice inflammation in the area. Compared to noninsertional Achilles tendonitis, the insertional type is more difficult to treat.

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Symptoms of Achilles tendonitis

The symptoms of Achilles tendonitis can differ based on where exactly the tendon was injured. You’ll also have to consider the severity of the condition. If it’s more severe, then the symptoms will be more disabling and noticeable.

Here are some of the symptoms that may signal Achilles tendonitis:

  • Pain is the most common symptom, which usually runs down throughout the back of your leg, generally starting at the calf and going down toward your heel.
  • When you walk, run, or perform other activities, you’ll notice that the pain gets worse.
  • The Achilles tendon itself will feel stiff[3] when you have tendonitis. The stiffness is usually worse when you get up after sitting for a while.
  • Inflammation is also something that you will likely notice in the area and being active can tend to aggravate the swelling.

Causes of Achilles tendonitis

Injury resulting from overuse of the Achilles tendon leads to small tears in the connective tissue.

If you regularly go for a run and decide to suddenly increase the duration or intensity of the exercise, it’s possible that this change can damage the tendon, leading to Achilles tendonitis.

However, individuals who are not very active and those with arthritis can also develop this form of tendonitis.

Achilles tendon stretches and strength exercises

Incorporating Achilles tendonitis exercises into your routine can help you overcome the symptoms. However, it is important to wait until you have recovered before you begin these exercises. Apart from helping you with the healing process, these exercises also improve the strength of your Achilles tendon which can be beneficial in preventing future injuries.

  • Runner’s stretch: Using an exercise mat, sit on the ground with your legs straight out in front of you. Bring your right foot towards the inner part of your thigh. Once your foot is in position, lean forward while keeping your spine straight. Try to hold this position for about half a minute, then return to the starting position and do the same with your left leg.
  • Toe-to-wall stretch: Another excellent option when it comes to Achilles tendonitis exercises is the classic toe-to-wall stretch. You’re going to stand facing a wall for this. Place the toes of one foot against the wall, with your heel firmly pressed on the ground. Next, pull the other foot slightly back so that you are standing on your toes and lifting your heel a bit. You will feel a slight stretch in your calf muscle. Hold this position for about 30 seconds before switching to the other leg.

Achilles stretching tips

When it comes to learning how to stretch the Achilles tendon, there are a couple of things that you should keep in mind:

  • Start slow and make sure you don’t push yourself too much, especially if you have Achilles tendonitis or damaged the tendon recently.
  • Focus on exercises that allow you to hold a stretch for an extended period.
  • It is important to not only focus on stretching but also learn exercises to relieve joint pain if you have other additional symptoms that affect more than just one tendon.
Calf strengthening exercises

Calf strengthening exercises

While it’s important to focus on your heels and ankles, you shouldn’t overlook the role of strengthening your calf muscles, too. These Achilles tendon stretches are also great for your calves:

  • Seated heel raises: This is a gentle stretch that won’t put you at risk of worsening your injuries. Simply sit on a chair with your back straight and your feet planted on the floor. Then, lift your heels upward until you feel a slight stretch, and hold the position for half a minute.
  • Standing heel raises: This exercise is very similar to seated heel raises, but this time, you’ll be standing behind a chair. In the same manner, lift your heels, bringing your body slightly upward.
  • Resistance band calf exercises: Several resistance band exercises can strengthen your calf muscles like banded side-step heel raises.

Treating Achilles tendonitis

You might want to know how to cure Achilles tendonitis fast. Your best way to speed up recovery is to rest. Take it slow for a couple of days, as this gives your tendon a chance to heal.

You should also consider taking a good product that helps build up joint strength to support your tendons. The Flexoplex Joint Health supplement, which contains only natural ingredients, is a great example of such a solution.

When the pain is moderate to severe, consider taking medication to reduce inflammation. Over-the-counter NSAIDs can be effective and an ice pack applied to your Achilles tendon[4] (your calf and heel), may also help to reduce pain and limit swelling.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it OK to walk with Achilles tendonitis?

Rest plays an important role when you’re treating Achilles tendonitis. During the first few days, avoid exercise. However, if it’s not too severe, you should be able to walk without aggravating your condition. It’s important to check with your doctor for a professional diagnosis and to get advice on how to manage your symptoms.

What foods strengthen the Achilles tendon?

You should focus on foods that are high in protein. Remember that protein is the building block of muscle tissue, which can help provide more support to your Achilles tendon. Vitamins A and C can also be beneficial additions to your diet.

Summary

Injuring your Achilles tendon can be painful and even make it difficult to walk. At first, rest is an important treatment option. As healing progresses, you should consider doing some Achilles tendonitis exercises, which focus on light stretches to the tendon. We hope that the tips and workouts suggested in this post will work to relieve your pain due to Achilles tendonitis effectively while also helping you avoid any future injuries to this area.