You used to enjoy a game of beach volleyball every weekend and never had any problems. Now that you are older, and spend most days seated at your desk, those weekend games have left you with pain at the back of your ankle that comes and goes. Your Achilles tendon is likely causing the discomfort, but simple stretches for Achilles tendinitis may do a lot to relieve your pain.
First things first: have your ankle pain evaluated to make sure the issue really is tendinitis. Other conditions like bursitis and arthritis could also cause pain in the ankle area, so let us identify the true cause.
Second: learn how to do the stretches correctly, so your problem doesn’t become even worse. We will describe some of them here, but you really need someone guiding your technique, so come see us for coaching.
Here are the stretches that may help:
- Sit on a chair with the sore ankle out in front of you, heel on the floor. Reach down with the opposite hand and pull the big toe back toward your shin. Hold 15 to 30 seconds, release, and do up to 4 repetitions, several times a day.
- After a couple of days, add this calf stretch: sit on the floor, legs out in front and knees level. Loop a towel around the ball of the affected foot (just below the toes). Hold the ends of the towel at knee distance and pull to stretch the foot gently towards you, using the same repetitions as above.
- A few days later, replace this plantar-calf stretch with a standing one: Place hands on chair back, countertop or vertical surface and step back with the sore ankle. Back leg should stay straight at the knee and have the heel firmly on the floor or ground. Lean forward gently at the hips while bending the other knee slightly, feeling the stretch at the back of the calf. Hold 15-30 seconds, building up to 4 reps per session.
- A few days later you can try the stair stretch. Stand on a step with heels off the edge and gently drop the affected heel slightly below step level. Hold and repeat as before, using the handrail for balance and keeping part of your weight on the other foot.
We hope your Achilles pain will disappear by doing these stretches faithfully. If not, please call Yuko Miyazaki, DPM in Berkeley, CA at (510) 647-3744 for further treatment options—that’s what we are here for!