Exercises for Achilles Tendinopathy

Are you running more than ever? Have you just started running, or some other form of exercises? And have you started to get pain in the back of your ankle in your Achilles tendon? Tendinopathy (irritation of a tendon) is usually caused by an increase in load, or change in activity.

Typically we see a spike in tendinopathies when people are out and about and exercising more (think: the start of summer, during coronavirus or at the beginning of a sporting preseason). However, with a sudden rise in activity, there is a risk of developing a tendinopathy if you are increasing the pace or volume too rapidly. We will discuss other ways of helping with Achilles tendinopathy, but one of the most important things to do is adjust your load.

While there are many suggestions around regarding how to best progress load, the simplest one to follow is the 10% rule – only increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% each week. This is a very simplistic way to look at load management, and there are of course circumstances where you could progress quicker, or should progress slower, so use this as a rough guide only. Pay attention to your body and if you are noticing you are getting progressively tighter or sorer, back off – run a shorter distance next time, or have a rest day.

Load Management

While it is often an increase in load which causes Achilles tendinopathy, there are other factors to consider. Your choice of footwear can play a big role in tendinopathy. Everyone’s feet are different, and therefore not everyone is suited to the same type of runners. The arch support in runners can vary dramatically, and its quite important to have the right type of shoe for you. If you aren’t sure, get properly fitted for your next pair.

Surfaces Can Create Achilles Tendinopathy

You may want to consider the surface you are running on as well. Were you previously running around an oval (on grass) and now you’re running on the footpath or up and down more hills? This may have resulted in an increased load through your Achilles, regardless of whether or not the distance has changed.

Tendon Strength

Lastly, the reason that you develop tendinopathy is because your tendon wasn’t strong enough to cope with the increase in load. A reduction in load will help settle your pain, but what if you want to be able to get back to running longer distances? You will need to strengthen your calf (your Achilles tendon is attached to your calf muscles).

Simple Exercise for Achilles Tendinopathy

The simplest and easiest way to do this is a calf raise – stand on one leg and lift your heel up off the floor and raise as high as you can! Slowly lower back down to the floor and repeat 3 set of 20 repetitions. It sounds like a lot, but our calf muscle is one of endurance, so train it that way! And remember, progressing too quickly is what caused this problem in the first place, so take it slow and listen to your body!

If you feel like you need professional help with this issue, please feel free to contact our of our physios today at our Instinct Health website for all Pilates and Physiotherapy needs.

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Exercises for Achilles Tendinopathy