Your Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body and connects the ankle to the muscles in the calf, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. Frequent activity can place a large amount of stress on the Achilles tendon, and because it does not receive as much blood as other tendons in the body, it may have a more difficult time repairing itself when injured. Stretching prior to engaging in physical activity can stimulate blood flow and reduce the risk for overuse injury.
Prior to stretching the Achilles tendon, you should perform light activities that warm up the muscles. Perform dynamic stretches -- for up to 10 minutes -- like light lunges, high knee lifts, jumping jacks or light jumps in place to warm up and stretch the Achilles.
Massaging the Achilles tendon and the areas around it can stimulate blood flow and help to warm up the tendons, according to AchillesTendon.com. To perform, run the hands over the back of the calf, using your thumb and forefinger and rubbing in circles. When you reach the Achilles tendon, which is the long, muscle-like structure felt behind the ankle, rub the area gently. This not only feels soothing, it also helps to warms up the Achilles tendon.
Once you have warmed up the muscles via light movements or massage, you can engage in static stretching to further warm up the Achilles tendon, according to Go Ask Alice, a health resource website from Columbia University. To begin, stand in front of a wall, slightly closer than an arm’s length away from the wall. Move one leg behind you, about a foot back, and keep your feet flat on the floor. Keeping your back straight, lean forward toward the wall, stopping when you feel a pull in the calf muscle. Hold this stretch for 10 seconds, and then extend the other leg back to stretch. Rest and then repeat on each leg for a total of two sets.
Achilles Tendon Stretch
Similar to the calf stretch, this exercise from Go Ask Alice specifically targets the Achilles tendon. Begin by standing in front of a wall and extending your right leg back -- a similar position to the calf stretch. Instead of keeping the leg straight, however, you should bend the knee of the extended leg and tuck in the hip in order to stretch the Achilles tendon. Take care not to sink too deeply in the stretch -- when you feel the first twinge of the stretch, this is enough. Release the foot, and then stretch the other leg. Repeat two additional times on each leg.