The Achilles tendon is a large tendon that connects to the gastrocnemius muscle and soleus muscle and allows the extension and flexion of the foot. This tendon is heavily used and relied upon whenever we walk, run, or jump.
Achilles tendonitis is a painful condition that affects this vital tendon, making it painful and difficult to move. If you’ve been dealing with pain, swelling, and loss of function in the foot and ankle, you have come to the right place. Let’s talk about how to restore mobility and reduce your pain from Achilles tendonitis by stretching.
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What Exactly is Achilles Tendonitis?
Achilles tendonitis is an overuse injury that occurs in the Achilles tendon and can cause mild to severe pain, inflammation, swelling, stiffness, and limited range of motion in the ankle and foot. The pain will usually increase with activity and is usually at its worst early in the day and right after you exercise. This is a common condition and is typically caused by overuse or repetitive overloading of the Achilles tendon.
The Achilles tendon is by far the strongest and the thickest tendon in the body, so when you injure it, the pain can be overwhelming and can lay you out for a while. If you develop Achilles tendonitis, you can expect the recovery time to take anywhere from six to eight weeks. Pushing yourself before your Achilles tendon has healed can lead to significant setbacks in recovery, causing you to be sidelined for even longer.
This overuse injury is common in athletes and weekend warriors alike. Whether you play sports, enjoy jogging, or have to climb a ton of stairs during the course of your workday, there is a risk of developing Achilles tendonitis if you have repetitive strain or impacts on the Achilles tendon. Wearing shoes that do not fit properly or skipping your warm-up and stretching routine before exercise can significantly increase your risk of developing Achilles tendonitis.
What is the Treatment for Achilles Tendonitis?
Thankfully, the majority of Achilles tendonitis cases can be treated relatively easily from the comfort of your own home with the RICE treatment and anti-inflammatory medications.
The RICE treatment involves the use of rest, ice, compression, and elevating the injured area. Rest is the most important part of treating Achilles tendonitis so if you want to heal quickly and on time, you have to stop any activities that put strain or stress on your tendon. That means skipping your workouts for a while.
Ice the affected area for intervals of twenty minutes several times a day to reduce inflammation and also to reduce pain. Make sure you wrap the ice in a paper towel or a towel so that you do not damage your skin.
Compression will also help by supporting the tendon and reducing the swelling directly at the affected site. Make sure to keep the leg elevated as often as you can, especially when you sleep or rest.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen can be used to reduce pain and inflammation. In some cases, injections of cortisone will be needed to reduce inflammation and pain. If the Achilles tendonitis is severe and does not respond to the other treatments, surgery may be required.
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Stretches to Reduce Pain and Improve Mobility
One of the most effective methods of reducing pain and improving mobility for people suffering from Achilles tendonitis is stretching. Here are some stretches you can do for your Achilles tendonitis. Try to perform these stretches three to four times a day.
Perform these while standing with the affected foot hanging off a stair or step with a banister or railing that you can hold onto for balance and safety. Slowly and gently lower the heel of the foot with the Achilles tendonitis below the step, keeping the toes and ball of the foot on the stair. Lower until you feel the stretch in the calf and Achilles tendon and hold for thirty seconds.
This stretch will require the use of a towel. Take a seat on the floor with both legs extended straight in front of you and wrap the towel around the ball of the foot with Achilles tendonitis. Slow pull the ends of the towel toward the midsection of your body until you start feeling the stretch inside the affected tendon. Try to maintain this stretch for thirty seconds.
Standing Calf Stretch
Start this stretch by standing and facing a wall with the uninjured foot placed in front of the injured one. Put both hands against the wall and while keeping the front leg straight, bend the back leg until you start feeling the stretch in the Achilles tendon and calf of the rear leg. Try to hold this stretch for thirty seconds.
Regular stretching can help reduce the pain that Achilles tendonitis can bring. Make sure you keep up with this stretching routine and do it several times a day to keep your Achilles tendon healthy and prevent flare-ups in the future. We hope these tips help and get you back on your feet.