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Conquering Achilles Injuries: Effective Exercises for Recovery and Prevention

Achilles injuries are a common yet significant problem for athletes and active individuals. The Achilles tendon, the largest tendon in the body, connects your calf muscles to your heel bone and plays a crucial role in walking, running, and jumping. Injuries to this tendon can range from mild tendonitis to severe ruptures, often resulting in pain, swelling, and reduced mobility. However, with appropriate exercises and physiotherapy, you can recover from Achilles injuries and prevent future issues. This blog post delves into the nature of Achilles injuries and presents exercises that can aid in both recovery and prevention.

Understanding Achilles Injuries

Achilles injuries typically manifest as either tendonitis or ruptures:

  • Achilles Tendonitis: This is an overuse injury characterised by inflammation of the tendon. It can result from repetitive stress, improper footwear, or a sudden increase in physical activity.

  • Achilles Tendon Rupture: This is a more severe injury where the tendon partially or completely tears. It often occurs during activities that involve sudden starts and stops, like sprinting or jumping.

Symptoms of Achilles Injuries

Common symptoms include:

  • Pain and stiffness along the Achilles tendon, especially in the morning or after activity

  • Swelling and tenderness

  • Difficulty flexing the foot

  • A popping sound or feeling in the case of a rupture

The Role of Exercises in Managing Achilles Injuries

Rehabilitation and prevention exercises are essential for strengthening the Achilles tendon and surrounding muscles, improving flexibility, and promoting healing. Here are some effective exercises to incorporate into your routine:

1. Calf Stretch

  • Purpose: To improve flexibility and reduce tension in the Achilles tendon.

  • How to Do It: Stand facing a wall with your hands on the wall. Place one foot back, keeping it straight, and bend the front knee while keeping both heels on the ground. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds and repeat 3 times on each leg.

2. Eccentric Heel Drops

  • Purpose: To strengthen the Achilles tendon and calf muscles.

  • How to Do It: Stand on the edge of a step with the balls of your feet on the step and your heels hanging off the edge. Raise both heels up, then slowly lower your heels below the step level using the injured leg only. Perform 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.

3. Seated Calf Raises

  • Purpose: To strengthen the soleus muscle and the Achilles tendon.

  • How to Do It: Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the ground. Place a weight (like a dumbbell or a heavy book) on your knees. Slowly raise your heels as high as you can, then lower them back down. Perform 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.

4. Towel Stretch

  • Purpose: To stretch and improve the flexibility of the Achilles tendon.

  • How to Do It: Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Loop a towel around the ball of your foot and gently pull the towel towards you, keeping your knee straight. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds and repeat 3 times on each leg.

5. Balance Exercises

  • Purpose: To improve proprioception and ankle stability.

  • How to Do It: Stand on one leg and maintain your balance for 30 seconds to a minute. For an added challenge, try closing your eyes or standing on an unstable surface like a cushion. Perform 3-5 repetitions on each leg.

Achilles injuries can be challenging, but with the right approach, you can facilitate a successful recovery and prevent future problems. Incorporating these exercises into your routine will help strengthen the Achilles tendon, enhance flexibility, and improve overall stability. Always consult with a healthcare professional or physiotherapist before starting any new exercise regimen, especially if you’re recovering from an injury. With dedication and the right guidance, you can overcome Achilles injuries and continue to enjoy your active lifestyle. Stay strong and stay active!

If you're experiencing Achilles pain, book an appointment with one of our therapists online via our website or call 0117 329 2090

June 2023

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