What are the Best Stretches for the Achilles Tendon?

K. Gierok

Injuries or inflammation of the Achilles tendon typically occur as a result of overuse or excessive high-impact exercise such as in running. While an injury to this part of the body can be very difficult to treat, it is surprisingly simple to prevent. The best way to prevent Achilles tendon injury or inflammation is through the use of stretches for the Achilles tendon. Some of the most common stretches for this body part include the wall flex, the functional stretch, and the yoga pose known as downward dog. For best results, these stretches typically should be held for at least twenty seconds.

Stretching the Achilles tendon may prevent inflammation or injury due to running.
Stretching the Achilles tendon may prevent inflammation or injury due to running.

One of the most effective stretches for the Achilles tendon is the wall flex. This is a great stretch for those who are concerned about damaging their Achilles tendon or have done so in the past, because it stretches both the Achilles tendon and the calf. To perform this stretch properly, individuals must stand about a foot in front of a wall or fence with their feet facing the wall. Those performing the stretch must then bring the heel of one foot close to the wall, with their toes planted on the wall. Typically, the foot will be at an angle in this position. For best results in the wall stretch, individuals are typically encouraged to keep both legs as straight as possible. Holding the pose for at least twenty seconds will provide a great stretch.

Yoga offers many poses that stretch the Achilles tendon.
Yoga offers many poses that stretch the Achilles tendon.

Another of the best stretches for the Achilles tendon is commonly referred to as the functional stretch. In this pose, individuals must stand on a step with their toes planted firmly on the surface of the step and their heels slightly off the back. While holding onto a railing, wall, or other sturdy surface, individuals slowly drop their heels towards the ground or the step below them as much as possible. As with the wall flex, individuals performing this stretch are typically encouraged to hold the position for at least twenty seconds for best results.

Excessive and high-impact forms of exercise can cause injuries to the Achilles tendon.
Excessive and high-impact forms of exercise can cause injuries to the Achilles tendon.

While downward dog is traditionally a yoga pose, it is also one of the most common stretches for the Achilles tendon. Starting on all fours on the ground, individuals performing downward dog must then straighten their legs. Doing so creates an upside down "V" with the body, providing an excellent stretch in the Achilles tendons, calves, and even hamstrings. Often, this pose requires practice and instruction from an experienced yogi in order to master.

A physical therapist can assist a patient in performing the best stretches for the achilles tendon.
A physical therapist can assist a patient in performing the best stretches for the achilles tendon.

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