Exercises for a Bruised Achilles Tendon

Toe Touch
A man is stretching his calves. (Image: Nick Free/iStock/Getty Images)

Bruising around the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscle to the heel bone, is often caused by overuse and is common in runners. Bruising can be caused by more serious injuries, such as Achilles tendonitis; an inflamed or torn tendon; or Achilles bursitis -- a painful swelling where the tendon inserts into the heel bone. After a sufficient period of rest, a few simple exercises will help to reduce inflammation, ease pain, improve tendon and calf strength and flexibility, and lower the risk for re-injury.

Precautions

No matter what the cause, if you have pain or bruising around your heel or tendon, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons advises you to seek medical attention to get an accurate diagnosis before beginning any rehabilitation exercises. According to SportsInjuryClinic.net, the initial treatment should always be rest and applying a cold compress to the area until the swelling has reduced and pain has eased enough to make movement possible.

Gentle Foot Flex

According to SportsInjuryClinic.net, this exercise can be attempted before any others to test the range of movement in your Achilles tendon and build flexibility. Sit with your legs straight out in front of you and gently flex the foot on your injured leg so your toes move up toward the ceiling and your heel lifts slightly off the floor. You should feel a stretch along your calf. Hold for five seconds then release and repeat the movement five times.

Calf Stretch

This exercise may take some time to build up to, but once it is possible to perform, repeat it about three times a day. Stand facing a solid wall and take a wide step back with your injured leg, so your front knee is bent and the back leg is straight. Keep the heel of your back foot on the floor and gently lean forward and push against the wall -- only go as far as is comfortable. Hold the stretch for about 15 seconds and repeat three times per session. As your Achilles tendon improves, try holding the stretch longer.

Step Stretch

This is a more advanced exercise and will give you a deeper stretch in your calf as well as your tendon. Stand on a step with your heels hanging over the edge. Hold onto something solid to help keep your balance, then gently lower your heels below the step so you feel a good stretch -- but no pain -- in your calf. Hold for up to 20 seconds. SportsInjuryClinic.net suggests trying this one with your knees straight throughout and then with your knees bent, which will focus the stretch more on your tendons.

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