This is the final phase of Achilles tendinitis treatment and rehabilitation, and should not be attempted until the early treatment phases have been completed.
All of the fitness components lost during the recovery period will be regained at this time; including flexibility, strength, power, muscle endurance, speed, balance and the like will be the focus. It’s important to concentrate on all of these fitness components to ensure a well-rounded recovery.
Movement is all important. Active movement gets blood and by proxy, oxygen and nutrients moving into the injured area. While I am stressing moving and movement, activities that cause pain are to be avoided. Discomfort is a part of the healing process, not pain. Pain is a warning sign of overload; do not ignore pain.
In fact, if you do experience pain during this phase of your rehab, it’s a sign that you are trying to progress too quickly. Back off and concentrate on some of the early phases of Achilles tendinitis treatment.
Each of the exercises listed below should be done in the order listed for proper recovery and healing. When the exercise can be done without discomfort or pain, move on to the next one. Only you will know when it is time to move on, so take this recovery period slowly and steadily.
- Range of motion – Moving the Achilles tendon is important and the base for the other exercises. Start slowly with bending and straightening the ankle and then move onto rotation – clockwise and counter clockwise motions.
- Stretch and strengthen – This is adding some intensity to the previous exercises, but should only be done if the first exercise can be done pain-free. Isometric exercise – contracting the muscles but not moving the ankle is the first step. Sit in a chair and face a wall. Place the ball of your foot against the wall, and gently push against the wall but do not move the ankle. This is an isometric exercise. Begin also at this stage with some stretching exercises. Doing so will make the Achilles tendon more flexible as well as the rest of the lower leg.
- Plyometrics and balance – This is the final stage and the one that will take your Achilles tendon to a pre-injured state. At this point in the rehabilitation process, the tendon should be as strong if not stronger than before. This stage is dynamic and explosive to strengthen the tendon and improve your proprioception and balance. Plyometric exercises, such as jumping jacks, hopping, skipping, etc. are intense; take it slowly and build up gradually.
As always; move slowly and take your time so you do not re-injure the Achilles tendon or cause injury to another part of your body. If you’re interested, you can learn more about treatment for Achilles tendinitis and Achilles tendon rupture from my comprehensive, 3 part Achilles tendinitis article.
Until next time, stay healthy, keep stretching and God bless.
The Stretch Coach
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