Stretching and strengthening are the goals of tendonitis ankle exercises. If you've been diagnosed with an inflamed tendon, you can use these exercises to speed up the recovery process. These movements may increase joint mobility and improve your symptoms.
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Signs You Have Tendonitis
Pain in your ankle is discouraging and difficult to work around. For example, if you have tendonitis of the elbow, you can take a break from activities like tennis and weight training. But you use your ankle every time you take a step, so it's harder to rest.
The good news is, if you follow a rehabilitation protocol, you should be able to alleviate your pain and recover. Understanding what tendons are and how tendonitis affects them will help you during the rehab process.
Tendons connect muscle to bone, according to the Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute. When they become inflamed or irritated, you have tendonitis. This condition can affect any tendon, but it's more likely to occur in the thumb, knee, hip, shoulder, elbow and Achilles' tendon.
The University of Rochester explains that there are two types of tendonitis: acute and chronic. If you have the acute form, the pain will likely be sharp and can prevent you from moving the joint. It might go away and then come back if you resume the activity that caused it in the first place. Chronic tendonitis is characterized by a dull, constant soreness that goes away when you warm up and move around.
There are several possible causes of tendonitis, states Columbia University. Strains, overuse, injuries or too much exercise are just a few to mention. Any of these conditions may cause a small tear in the tendon, which leads to inflammation.
Read more: How Do I Work Out With Tendinitis?
How to Recover From Tendonitis
There are a few steps you can take to ease the pain before you start doing tendonitis ankle exercises. The Cleveland Clinic recommends stopping any activity that aggravates your symptoms. Rest the affected area as much as possible.
Ice packs may help too. You can also use anti-inflammatory drugs to calm down the swelling. Check with your doctor beforehand to make sure it's safe and to learn the appropriate drug and dose.
A June 2015 study published in the World Journal of Methodology explains that there's one form of exercise that seems to help the most during rehab: eccentric training. Eccentric means that the muscle is contracting as it lengthens.
For example, when you do a bicep curl, the motion when you lift the weight up is called the concentric phase. When you lower it down under control, that's considered the eccentric phase. You can use this methodology for ankle or peroneal tendonitis exercises. The peroneal tendons run side-by-side behind the outer ankle bone, explains the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.
Read more: Foods to Avoid for Bursitis & Tendinitis
Tendonitis Ankle Exercises
Your rehab program should include stretching and eccentric movements to help the tendon heal properly. These exercises may also stop the tendon from tightening up due to under-use.
Move 1: Seated Ankle Stretch
If it hurts to stand and support your weight, you can start with this seated exercise from the National Institute on Aging:
- Sitting on a chair, scoot your bottom forward to the edge.
- Stretch your legs out in front of you and plant your heels on the floor.
- Point the toes of the injured ankle up towards your shins, as high as you can.
- Hold this position for 10 to 30 seconds.
- Repeat three to five times; then switch sides.
Move 2: Heel Cord Stretch
This stretching exercise from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons can be done six to seven days per week. It's meant to keep your ankle flexible and may even help prevent further injuries. It's also useful as a peroneal tendonitis stretch.
- Stand facing a wall.
- Put your hands on it and step back with the injured ankle. Both heels should be flat on the ground.
- Point the toes of the injured ankle in slightly.
- Straighten your back knee and bend your front knee in towards the wall.
- You should feel a stretch in your rear ankle. Hold for 30 seconds.
- Complete two sets of 10 reps on each side.
Move 3: Standing Heel Raises
This eccentric exercise from Kaiser Permanente will help strengthen your ankle and speed up the recovery process.
- Start standing on the ground.
- Point your toes and raise your heels off the ground as high as you can, flexing your calf muscle.
- Slowly lower yourself back down to the ground.
- Complete 20 to 25 reps.
You can make this exercise harder by standing on one leg or putting your feet at the edge of a step to increase the range of motion.
- Kaiser Permanente: "Achilles Tendonitis"
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: "Foot and Ankle Conditioning Program"
- National Institute on Aging: "Ankle Stretch Exercise"
- World Journal of Methodology: "Exercise for Tendinopathy"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Tendinitis: Management and Treatment"
- Columbia University: "Tendonitis and Tenosynovitis"
- University of Rochester: "The Best Ways to Treat, Prevent Tendonitis"
- Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute: "What Is Tendonitis?"
- American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons: "Peroneal Tendon Injuries"