Achilles tendinitis is a frequent source of heel pain, especially among active adults nearing (or in, or passing…) their middle ages. As we get older, our tendons tend to lose some of their strength and flexibility, meaning they can’t always handle as much wear and tear from frequent standing, running, or sports as they used to.
Fortunately, you can ease some of your pain and better prepare your Achilles tendons and calf muscles for activity with a few simple stretches. If you find the back of your heels hurting frequently after exercise, try these and see if they help:
- Stair stretch / calf raises. Stand on a step or curb with your heels off the edge. Slowly lower your heels until you feel a stretch in your calves, the raise them back to level. Do the same thing again, only raising your heels this time instead of lowering them. Grab a stairway railing for support if you need to. If you don’t have a staircase to use, you can stand on a sturdy phone book or other comparable object.
- Wall stretch. Stand with your hands flat against a wall. Push one leg behind you, keeping your knee straight and foot flat on the ground. A key is to make sure that you step straight back from the wall. Your 2nd toe should actually create a 90 degree/right angle to the wall to make sure that you get a good straight on your Achilles Tendon and muscles. Also, make sure the lower part of your back stays flat and not curved to avoid putting undue pressure on your lower back. (Your hips will push forward and your front knee will bend to accommodate this.) Hold for a few seconds, then switch legs.
- Toe walking. Once the Achilles tendon feels better, toe walking can be done to strengthen and prevent recurrent episodes. In the middle of an open room, rise on the balls of your feet and walk in a straight line as far as you can safely, then turn and return to your original position.
- Sitting toe stretches. While sitting in a chair, you can extend your leg forward with the heel on the floor, then bend forward, grab your big toe, and pull it gently back toward you. You may also try sitting on the ground with your legs out in front, then wrapping a towel around the front of your feet and pulling back gently on the ends of the towel.
Regular stretching is a good way to ease mild cases of Achilles tendinitis and resist re-injury, but if you’re experiencing chronic discomfort you should make an appointment with Dr. Victoria Melhuish in Carson City or Gardnerville, NV. We offer a variety of treatment options for acute and chronic tendon pain, including custom orthotics. Our office is unique with an onsite lab enabling precise fitting and individual customization of orthotics on site. To schedule at either location, please call (775) 783-8037 today.