The phrase "Achilles heel" has been used to describe a small but crippling weakness in an otherwise strong person, system or strategy. When your Achilles tendon suffer from the pain and inflammation of tendonitis or tendonosis, you may feel as if this one band of connective tissue is standing between you and your everyday tasks. As this tissue becomes tight and stiff, it limits comfortable range of motion in your foot until even walking becomes an agonizing experience. Fortunately, you can often reverse this painful problem through the right kinds of physical therapy. Here are four simple exercises that you can do to relieve your aches and stiffness.
If your Achilles tendon feels "short" and tight, these toe stretches can help to lengthen and loosen it. You'll perform these exercises from a seated position, with the heel resting on the floor and the foot pointing upward. Simply grab your big toe and pull it gently back toward you. Hold this pose for at least 15 seconds (up to 30 seconds) before releasing the toe. Do these stretches in sets of 2 to 4 throughout the day.
This type of exercise stretches both the Achilles tendon and the calf muscle attached to it. It's performed from a standing position. You can either stand at arm's length from a wall, holding your hands against the wall at shoulder level, or you can stand behind a non-rolling chair with your hands on top of the chair's back. From this position, take one step backward with the painful leg and bend the "good" leg slightly until you can feel the painful Achilles tendon stretch, then maintain it for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat this exercise 5 times a day in sets of 2 to 4 stretches per session.
When you feel your Achilles tendon growing stiff and painful, it's time to seek out the nearest stairway that has a supporting handrail. Use the handrail to brace yourself, then stand on the edge of a stair with the heels dangling unsupported. Now allow the heels to droop downward, making sure that you're putting a reasonable amount of weight on your "good" leg the whole time. Let this pose stretch out your Achilles tendon for 15 to 30 seconds, 2 to 4 times per day.
The plantar fascia is a band of connective tissue attached to the front of your foot and to the Achilles tendon. Tightness in one tissue can lead to tightness in the other, so this stretch addresses the problem at its source. You'll sit on the ground for this exercise, placing a towel around the foot that needs treatment. Grasping the ends of the towel, pull your foot back toward your body gently. You should feel the foot, Achilles tendon and calf stretch. Like the previous exercises on this list, you can repeat this exercises in sets of 2 to 4 up to 5 times each day.
These and other exercises can serve as a helpful part of your Torrance Achilles tendon treatment plan at Rolling Hills Medical. Before you dive into these stretches, it's wise to schedule an initial evaluation at our clinic. We can study your condition to make sure that the exercises are actually safe for you. At the same time, we may prescribe other treatment modalities such as chiropractic care, physiotherapy, or integrative medicine to enhance your recovery. Call our doctor for Achilles tendon pain in Torrance at 424-250-8699!