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Stretches for Achilles tendon problems

Toe stretch

  1. Sit in a chair and extend your affected leg so that your heel is on the floor with your foot pointing away from you (dorsiflexion).
  2. With your hand, reach down and pull your big toe up and back (toward your ankle and away from the floor).
  3. Hold the position for 20 seconds.
  4. Repeat 4 times per session, 5 times a day.

The next three exercises are often done in a progression. Start with the calf-plantar fascia stretch and then move on to the calf chair stretch and the stair stretch. Talk to your health professional about how long you should do each one before moving on to the next one.

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Calf-plantar fascia stretch

  1. Sit with your legs extended and the knees straight.
  2. Loop an elastic band or towel around the leg to be stretched. Position the band or towel so that it goes around your foot just under the toes.
  3. Hold each end of the towel or band in each hand, with your hands positioned above your knees. A towel will give you a more effective stretch.
  4. Pull back with the towel or band so that your foot stretches toward you.
  5. Hold the position for 10 to 30 seconds.
  6. Repeat 5 times per session, 2 sessions a day.

Chair calf stretch

Talk to your health professional about how long to hold the stretch. A general recommendation is to hold the stretch 20 to 30 seconds and repeat it 3 to 5 times, 2 to 10 times a day.

  1. Stand behind a kitchen-type chair and place your hands on the back of a chair for balance.
  2. Step back with your left leg; keep the leg straight, and press your left heel into the floor with your toe turned slightly in.
  3. Lean forward, and bend your right leg slightly. Feel the stretch in your left Achilles tendon.
  4. Repeat on the other side.

Stair stretch

  1. Stand with the balls of both feet on the edge of a stair or curb (or even a medium phone book), with at least one hand holding on to something solid, such as a banister or handrail, to help you keep your balance
  2. Keeping your affected leg straight, slowly let that heel hang down off of the stair or curb until you feel a stretch in the back of your calf and/or Achilles area. Some of your weight should still be maintained on the other leg.
  3. Hold this position for 20 seconds.
  4. Repeat 4 times per session, 5 times a day or whenever your Achilles tendon starts to feel tight.

This stretch can also be done with your knee slightly bent.

Author Kathe Gallagher, MSW
Editor Kathleen M. Ariss, MS
Associate Editor Pat Truman, MATC
Primary Medical Reviewer Martin Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Nicola Maffulli, MD, PhD - Orthopedics
Last Updated January 30, 2007

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 30, 2007
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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