A Lean Life

Achilles Tendon Stretching – The Key to a Limber Lower Leg

Achilles Tendon StretchAchilles tendon stretching is a simple stretching routine, but when performed consistently, will help to maintain the strength and health of your lower leg.

It is the largest tendon in the body measuring 6 inches in length, and connects the gastrocnemius and soleus (your two calf muscles) to the heel bone.

Benefits of Achilles Tendon Stretching

The benefits of stretching this tendon are important, as an Achilles injury is painful and very debilitating:

    • Improve leg circulation
    • Improve your lower leg flexibility
    • Reduce the risk of injury

Improve the range of motion of the ankle (helpful in sports and physical activity)

Stretches for Your Achilles Tendon

Prior to performing these static stretches below, always start with the golden rule of stretching by always doing 1) light cardio and 2) dynamic stretching:

#1 Perform a few minutes of light cardio to warm-up and prepare your muscles, and get the blood flowing:

  • Jump rope
  • Jog in place
  • Jumping jacks

#2  Perform some dynamic stretches focusing on the legs and lower body:

  • Knee raises
  • Leg raises
  • Leg swings

Now you are ready for Achilles tendon stretching.

These stretches are in order from least strenuous/strain to most strenuous/strain.  If you have not stretched your Achilles tendon for a while, then you will want to start slow and be very gentle.

 

Seated Foot StretchAchilles Foot Stretch

  1. Sitting on the floor or in a chair, place the heel of one foot on the ground with the toe pointing up.
  2. Grab your toes (or the end of your shoe) and pull towards you.
  3. Pull into you feel very slight discomfort in your Achilles tendon.
  4. Hold this position for 20 seconds.
  5. Alternate feet.

 

Calf-Plantar Fascia StretchCalf-Plantar Fascia Stretch

  1. Sitting on the floor in an upright position with good posture, extend both legs in front of you.
  2. Take a towel and loop around the upper half of one foot.
  3. Slowly pull towel towards you to extend the Achilles tendon and calf.
  4. Stretch until you feel mild discomfort.
  5. Hold stretch for 20 seconds.
  6. Alternate leg/foot

 

Upper Calf Wall StretchCalf Stretch

  1. Standing approximately arm’s length from a wall, place one foot near the wall and one foot extended behind you as shown.
  2. Slowly lean into the wall keeping your rear leg straight, and your heel on the ground.
  3. Stretch until you feel mild discomfort.
  4. Hold stretch for 20 seconds.
  5. Alternate legs.
  6. Finally, extend both legs behind you and lean into wall so you are stretching both calves at once.

 

Achilles Wall StretchAchilles Wall Stretch

  1. Standing approximately arm’s length from a wall, place one foot near the wall and one foot extended behind you as shown.  Slightly bend your rear leg.
  2. Slowly lean into the wall with your rear leg slightly bent.  KEY: The slight bend at the knee isolates your Achilles tendon and lower calf, versus a straight leg (above) which isolates the upper calf.  You will feel the difference between the two.
  3. Stretch until you feel mild discomfort.
  4. Hold stretch for 20 seconds.
  5. Alternate legs.

 

Achilles Stair Stretchachilles Stair Stretch

  1. Using a stair or step, place the toe of one foot on the step, and let your heel hang freely over the step.
  2. Making sure you are properly balanced, slowly push the heel down to stretch the calf muscle and Achilles tendon.  Be careful not to put too much force on your stretch, as you will have your full unsupported weight pushing down on your ankle.
  3. Extend the heel to a point of slight discomfort, hold for 20 seconds, and recover.
  4. Alternate legs

Stretching Summary

Always follow stretching basics as part of any workout routine:

  • Never stretch cold muscles
  • Always do light cardio to warm the muscles
  • Dynamic stretching prior to static stretching

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