The Achilles tendon is prone to injury particularly from jumping activities such as basketball or stop-start running sports such as tennis and soccer. To avoid injury ranging from pain and soreness to a partial or full tear, start a pre-hab exercise program to strengthen the Achilles and surrounding musculature. Exercises should be done two to three times per week on non-consecutive days.
How To Keep Your Achilles Healthy
Stretch the calf muscles, gastrocnemius, two to three times per day and/or post-workout to maintain a flexible, strong Achilles tendon. Stand with both hands resting on a wall at about shoulder-height. Place your left foot in front of your right foot and bend your left knee over your ankle. Extend your right leg behind you with your right heel on the ground. Lean into the wall until you feel a stretch in the back leg. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat on the other side. Do not stretch so far as to cause pain and do light activity such as light jogging first to warm up muscles and avoid muscle pulls.
Strengthen the Achilles tendon with calf raises three times per week as part of an overall lower-body exercise program. Stand tall holding onto a chair for support and raise up onto your toes, lifting your heels off of the ground as you squeeze your calf muscles. Lower back to the floor and repeat 10 to 15 times for a total of two to three sets.
Wear the appropriate footwear for your foot type. Improper footwear can lead to Achilles tendonitis or a tear if there is inadequate cushioning, support or motion-control while walking, jumping and running. A physiotherapist can assess your gait and shoes to determine if there is excessive wear in the heels or poor shock absorption, both factors contributing to Achilles injuries.