The Best Stretches To Relieve Achilles Tendon Pain

An injury to the Achilles tendon can make exercising or even just getting around painful and troublesome. Achilles tendon damage or inflammation isn't uncommon, causing tightness and tenderness that, in turn, make just about everything in your life slow down. Strenuous physical activity is off the docket for a while, and resting is key to your recovery.

This tendon that connects the back of the heel to the calf muscle is partly responsible for our ability to lift the heel and walk, run, or jump (via Britannica). Of all the tendons in the body, the Achilles is the strongest (via University of Michigan Health).

You've likely heard the origin story of how the tendon got its name: The Greek mythological figure Achilles was submerged in the River Styx by his mother, who held him by his heel. This was the only part of his body untouched by the water and, therefore, the part left unprotected and vulnerable (via Britannica). 

Here are some ways that the Achilles tendon is vulnerable to injury.

Common causes of Achilles tendon damage

Achilles tendonitis and Achilles tendon rupture (ouch) are the most common culprits for pain above the heel (via Medical News Today). You'll likely know you've ruptured your Achilles tendon if you, well, hear it. The area may swell, and you might have a bit of a limp. Reach out to your doctor or physical therapist if it ever pops after you've jumped or tripped.

Achilles tendonitis typically develops from overuse of the tendon. The area will become stiff and tender, particularly upon waking in the morning. According to Sports Medicine Australia, wearing unsupportive footwear and neglecting to warm up before exercising can also lead to these painful conditions. Diving right into a new workout routine rather than gradually immersing yourself is another sure way to put the Achilles tendon at risk. 

Hopefully, something as extreme as surgery won't be needed to repair the damage, and some stretching will do the trick.

Stretches to heal your Achilles tendon

Gently stretching your Achilles tendon daily is the surest way to promote healing. A runner's stretch or calf stretch will target the area perfectly. You may remember this one from middle school gym class. Simply put your hands against the wall and lunge, with the leg with the sore Achilles tendon stretched out behind you. Put only as much pressure as will give a nice stretch, avoiding anything painful. Hold it for about 30 seconds (via Healthline).

Toe-to-wall stretch is another effective stretch for easing tightness in the Achilles tendon and calf. You can do it just about anywhere, too. With your heel grounded, place your toes up against the wall (or tree) and lean into it. Your other foot will be flat on the floor. Again, hold for roughly 30 seconds (via Healthline).

According to Medical News Today, a bilateral heel drop is another beneficial movement for the Achilles tendon. You simply stand on the edge of a stair step and lower your heels down. You'll feel a nice, deep stretch throughout the tendon and the back of your legs. Alternatively, you can do this with just the injured leg, placing the other foot on the floor.

These simple stretches should keep your Achilles tendon in tip-top shape.