Achilles tendonitis is an inflammation of the achilles tendon following repetitive movement or increased new loads of the tendon over a period of time. It can cause pain at the heel or through the mid portion of the achilles just below the calf and soleus muscles. These days we refer to a tendonopathy rather than a tendonitis.
This is a blog post / video when I first started out doing videos on my personal account across on Instagram at @naked.physio. I have continued to post advice and exercise tips about injuries and how to avoid injury on this account. This post in particular about physio exercise for achilles tendonitis is absolutely gold.
It is a great physio exercise for achilles pain. So what exactly does the achilles do?
ACTIONS: To plantar flex your ankle or simply to point your toes.
ORIGIN: originates from gastrocnemius muscle
INSERTS: on to the calcaneus or the heel bone at the back of the foot.
How To Test
If you think you may have achilles tendonitis you can test it by just gently touching the achilles tendon. It will be sore along the middle of the tendon or even at the attachment at the heel.
If you are worried that you have ruptured the tendon you can test that too with the “Squeeze Test” You can test if this big thick tendon is still in tact by squeezing your calf muscle. You should see the foot move or the toes point!
The Achilles Tendonitis Exercise
- Initially place your feet onto the edge of a block
- Then come up on to your toes on both feet
- Slowly transition your weight onto the affected leg. Take your time with this. Only allow as much weight on the affected leg with achilles tendonitis as you can tolerate.Pain should not be above 1-2/10.
- Hold for about 20 seconds. Repeat on each side so that both legs become equally as strong!
- Progression: You can progress this by slowly lowering your heel toward the ground. But do this very slowly and only go as far as you can tolerate (pain 1-2/10).
Other Physio To Help Achilles Tendonitis:
- Light stretching: Do this very gently. Do not over do it. You do not want to irritate the area. Sometimes you can irritate the nerve endings and make it worse. So try light stretching only. Research has been released lately that this could actually damage the tendon further. So I would be very cautious with the stretching.
- Massage: Again be very gentle with this. You can irritate and stir up the nerve endings.
- Finally, you can also try a heel wedge under your shoe to make sure there is less stretch on the achilles tendon. This is great for first thing in the morning when you are getting up out of bed. Your foot has been in a toes pointed position for most of the night so getting up and stretching it straight away can be a bit of a shock for the tendon. Try shoes on first so that the tendon is not under so much stretch initially.
But the Gold standard for physio for achilles pain is definitely the above exercise. So watch the video above and master it. It will keep you running for longer and faster! Any other questions please reach out to me.
More information can be found from this great resource at PhysioPedia.