Your physical therapist will perform an evaluation to determine both the source and the cause of your symptoms. Below, is a list of exercises and stretches that might assist you in relieving your achilles tendinopathy while you await your appointment. If any exercise/stretch causes you more pain, discontinue the exercise/stretch and ask your physical therapist for assistance.
Breakdown of Exercises & Stretches for Achilles Tendinopathy
1. Foam Roller Gastroc Stretch
Seated on the ground with your leg straight, place foam roller under calf. Prop up on arms and roll calf on foam roller. Make sure to rotate hip inward or outward to get all aspects of gastroc/soleus complex. If you find a “tight” spot, you can focus in on that spot or utilize a lacrosse/tennis ball to get a more aggressive mobilization. Foam roll for 2-3 minutes at at time. Foam rolling should not be overdone (i.e. many times a day and everyday of week) as soft tissue needs to heal and adapt to the stresses placed on them.
2. Heel Raise with Heel Elevated
Roll up a small towel and place on the ground (could also use a small 10lb plate). Place heel on the towel and perform a heel raise lifting up onto toes. Pace should be slow and controlled throughout the motion. A ball can be placed between ankle and squeezed to put foot in optimal position by activating posterior tibialis and intrinsic foot muscles. Perform 3 sets of 15 repetitions.
3. Half Kneeling Gastroc Stretch 3D
Kneel on one leg with your injured leg up. Place foot flat on the ground and drive knee forward over toes in 3 directions – forward, in, and out. Pause slightly for 2-3 seconds with knee out over toes. Perform 5 reps in all 3 directions while in kneeling position. You can add weight or a kettlebell on top of knee to provide a deeper stretch. Check out our video for more explanation.
4. Seated Heel Raise
In seated position with feet flat on the ground and weight on your lap, perform a heel raise coming up onto toes. Perform 3 sets of 15 repetitions. A seated position helps isolate load into gastroc/soleus and achilles tendon.
5. Weight Shifting on Toes – Walking Forward/Backward
Perform a heel raise and maintain position up on toes. While in this position, weight shift side to side without letting heels drop toward the ground. Perform 10 shifts each direction. After doing 10 weight shifts, you can progress to walking short strides forward and backward on toes without letting heels drop toward the ground. The backward walking on toes is an important progression as it isolates the soleus muscle. The soleus acts as a decelerator when running and therefore a strong soleus muscles can decrease risk for achilles injuries.
6. Farmer Carry Heel Raise
Hold a weight or kettlebell in both arms and perform a walking heel raise. Focus on trying to walk heel to toe then coming up into a heel raise.
7. Heel Raise on Box (Eccentric)
Place toes and mid-foot on edge of a box and perform a heel raise lifting up onto toes. Pace should be twice as long on the decent or “eccentric” motion coming down from heel raise (2 seconds up and 4 seconds down). Finishing position should be with heels below the edge of the box with a mild stretch though achilles. A ball can be placed between ankle and squeezed to put foot in optimal position by activating posterior tibialis and intrinsic foot muscles. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
Find Physical Therapy for Achilles Tendinopathy
By incorporating these exercises and stretches into your daily regimen, you will start to develop the muscles that have been causing your pain. Be sure to reach out to our team here at Impact Physical Therapy and schedule your evaluation today!