Along the back of each leg, you have a thick tendon that connects your calf to your heel. These Achilles tendons are the biggest, strongest tendons in your body, capable of withstanding about four times your weight. But just like the Achilles of legend, these tendons aren’t completely impervious. Because they do so much for your body, it’s easy to overstress them.
Here at Arizona Foot and Ankle Medical Center in Chandler and Laveen, Arizona, our dedicated team sees many people with Achilles tendon issues, ranging from tendonitis to ruptures. While we have the expertise to help people heal, we also want to help you avoid injury in the first place.
With that goal in mind, we recommend performing the following exercises to strengthen your Achilles tendon.
You can target your Achilles tendon with an exercise that’s easy to do just about anywhere: heel raises. We’ll show you several variations:
Standing heel raises
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Rise onto the balls of your feet, lifting your heels. Hold the position for a moment, then slowly lower yourself back down. Repeat several times. If you feel off-balance, you can place your hand on a wall or a piece of furniture for support.
Bent-leg heel raises
Repeat the above process, but do it with your knees bent. This can be a relatively small bend, but it makes a big difference. Bent-leg heel raises target your soleus muscle, while standing heel raises target your gastrocnemius muscle. Both play key roles in supporting your Achilles tendon.
Seated heel raises
If standing and bent-leg heel raises feel too intense, you can work up to them by sitting with your feet flat on the floor shoulder-width apart and your knees at a 90-degree angle. In that position, raise your heels, hold the pose for a moment, and then lower them back down.
Sit on the floor or bed with your legs extended out in front of you. To avoid locking your knees, bend your legs slightly.
Wrap a towel, strap, or resistance band around the ball of one foot. Then gently pull the item toward you to flex your foot. Hold the position for a moment, and then gently release the tension.
This exercise strengthens your Achilles tendon by making it work against the resistance. The harder you pull, the more work your tendon will do. But don’t pull too hard. It should feel like your calf is working, but it shouldn’t feel painful. Overdoing it could lead to injury.
With these easy, at-home Achilles tendon exercises, you can support your body’s biggest tendon. But if the exercises feel particularly challenging or painful, stop doing them and talk to us. It could be a sign of Achilles tendonitis, or inflammation in your tendon. If you have Achilles tendonitis, we can treat the issue and help you avoid a more serious problem.
If you have problems with your Achilles tendon, or if you need care for anything else related to your feet or ankles, book an appointment online or over the phone with Arizona Foot and Ankle Medical Center today.