Are you an active person who enjoys running, CrossFit, or showing off your "double under" skills? If so, you might have experienced tenderness in your heels. This common condition is known as Achilles tendonitis, and it can affect not only athletes but anyone. Even the team here at Arise Physical Therapy. Fortunately, Justin has created a video that can help you recover and get back to your favorite activities quickly and easily. In this blog, we will provide an overview of Achilles tendonitis, its causes, and a brief description of the exercises that can help manage the pain and promote faster recovery.
What is Achilles Tendonitis? The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscles to the back of the heel bone, and when it becomes inflamed, irritated, or degenerated, it leads to pain in the heel. Activities involving repetitive movements or excessive strain, ill-fitting shoes, tight calf muscles, abnormal foot mechanics, and age-related degeneration are common causes of Achilles tendonitis.
Exercises to Help Manage Achilles Tendonitis: In the video below, Justin demonstrates four exercises designed to alleviate pain and promote healing. These exercises aim to:
Mobilize and increase range of motion in the ankle,
Stabilize the ankle, and
Improve weight-bearing ability.
For these exercises, you'll need a foam roller, a resistance band, and a step.
Exercise 1: This exercise focuses on releasing tension in the front of your leg and calf. Place your calf (of the affected leg) on the foam roller and place your other leg on top to apply pressure. Rotate the leg inward and outward until you find a tender spot. Maintain pressure on the tender spot and point your toe up and down. Repeat this process by rolling your calf up the foam roller to find other tender spots. Afterward, repeat the same process with the front of your leg while lying on your stomach.
Exercise 2: In this exercise, Justin demonstrates a seated heel raise, which is an alternative to a standing heel raise. Sit down and place your leg on the foam roller. Wrap a resistance band around your foot and pull back on the band as far as possible. Push your toes against the band and hold for 30 seconds. Slowly bring your foot back and repeat. Aim to complete 10 sets.
Exercise 3: Once the pain subsides, you can add load to your heel. Begin with a standing heel raise, holding at the top of the raise, and lift your good leg off the ground. Slowly and controlled, lower the heel of your affected leg. Aim to complete 2 sets of 10. Eventually, progress to standing on the edge of a step with only your toes on the step, repeating the process but lowering your heel as low as possible beyond the step.
Bonus Exercise: Once your Achilles tendon feels better, Justin suggests the anterior step-down exercise. Using the step, step forward off the edge while leaving your affected leg on the step. Slowly lower your good leg forward off the step, ensuring the heel of your affected leg remains flat on the step. Stop if the heel lifts. You should feel this exercise in your quads and glutes, as it works the entire leg.
Achilles tendonitis can be a painful condition, but with the right exercises and proper care, you can manage the pain and promote healing. Below, you will find Justin's video demonstrating the videos we discussedwhich will help you to manage your pain and stregthen your heels.