Pretty much every runner has experienced Achilles Tendonitis at some point after running. That strange feeling of a funny knot in the calf or that burning sensation in the heel. Are you having a hard time dealing with the painful & stiff Achilles? Doing foam roller exercises for Achilles Tendonitis may help you get immediate relief.
A recent study suggests that foam rolling can reduce muscle tension, which may aid in your Achilles Tendonitis recovery. And, the best part? It doesn’t involve stretching, and simply rolling your tight muscles with a foam roller can provide you with relief.
If you don’t deal with the symptoms of Achilles Tendonitis as soon as possible, they’ll get even worse. It can also result in needing to take some time off from running.
- What is Achilles Tendonitis?
- Some of the Common Causes of Achilles Tendonitis
- Does Foam Rolling Help Achilles Tendonitis?
- Should You Massage Your Achilles Tendon Directly?
- Foam Roller Exercises For Achilles Tendonitis:
- To Sum it Up
What is Achilles Tendonitis?
Achilles Tendonitis or Achilles Tendinitis. is the irritation or inflammation of the Achilles tendon. Some of the common symptoms are stiffness and pain at the back of the heel.
Achilles Tendon is the fibrous tissue that connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. It is the strongest and largest tendon in your body. It plays a crucial role in helping us stand straight, but more than that, it helps us push forward when running.
So, your tendons are vulnerable to injuries due to the high tensions and limited blood flow.
A lot of the time, runners increase their training and perform more intensely. Hence, they’re exposed to significant stress when you run faster or for a long time. Combine this stress with poor mobility, aged tendon tissues, and unstable foot techniques. And you got the recipe for overuse injury in the Achilles tendons.
Let’s see some of the common causes of Achilles Tendonitis in detail.
Some of the Common Causes of Achilles Tendonitis
As explained earlier, the root cause of Tendonitis is due to excessive stress on the Achilles tendon.
If you have stiff or exhausted calf muscles, you will put too much strain on the Achilles during running. It happens when you don’t stretch your calves, increase your mileage, or overtraining.
If you’re doing extreme hillside running or a lot of speedwork, that can also cause tendinitis. This type of training puts more strain on the Achilles tendon than the other forms of running.
Stiff running shoes that force the Achilles to twist can also cause Tendonitis. Runners with overpronated feet are at a higher risk of developing Achilles Tendonitis. Their feet rotate too much inward when it touches the ground, putting too much strain on Achilles.
If you run in worn-out shoes or your shoes don’t provide enough support, then it can put excessive strain on your tendons. You’re more likely to develop Tendonitis if your shoes don’t provide enough shock absorption.
Avoid running on a hilly or hard surface, which puts your tendons under too much strain.
Other common causes of Achilles Tendonitis:
- Wear and tear to the tendon due to your age
- Biomechanical abnormalities like leg length discrepancy
- Inflammatory arthritis
Stop all your running activities if you experience mild or intense pain in your tendons or near the heel.
You can also do some cross-training if you experience pain in your tendons. After all, you wouldn’t want to worsen your injury more by running through it.
This injured tendon can develop into more severe Tendonitis in a short time. If not treated in time, it can even lead to a partial or complete tear in the Achilles tendon.
Does Foam Rolling Help Achilles Tendonitis?
Foam rolling is a form of the Self-Myofascial Release (SMR) method. SMR is a self-massaging technique that uses a tool to reduce muscular tension and improve mobility efficiency.
Foam rolling is a beneficial tool to use before and after exercise as a warm-up or cool-down.
When you massage your muscles over these rollers, it relieves muscle tension and soreness. Using a roller also helps break down your muscles’ knots and helps repair damaged tissue.
It also improves your performance by increasing your muscles’ blood flow and circulation. Due to this, your mobility and flexibility also increase without compromising muscle strength.
Should You Massage Your Achilles Tendon Directly?
If you have Achilles tendonitis, you shouldn’t massage your Achilles Tendon directly.
If your Achilles tendon is aching, wouldn’t it make sense to roll over the affected area to ease the pain? No, your body doesn’t function in this manner for many reasons.
For starters, when it comes to self-myofascial massage or foam rolling, repeatedly massaging over the injured area may increase the strain and inflammation on your tendons.
Second, the area of discomfort is not necessarily the cause of your injury.
For example, the stiffness in the calf muscle puts strain on your tendon, leading to Achilles Tendonitis.
What should I do then?
It would be best to foam roll away from your tendons to the connecting muscle rather than focusing on your injured tendons. Work on the connecting muscle thoroughly once you’ve reached there. Then return to the painful spot of your tendon and work gently on it first.
As you relax, imagine the stiffness from your muscles melting away. In this manner, you’ll avoid inducing excessive inflammation, but you will also get to the root of your injury.
Foam Roller Exercises For Achilles Tendonitis:
In Achilles Tendonitis, you’ll need different foam roller types depending on the muscle. Foam rolling exercises involve the calf, Achilles tendon, and feet.
Some of the foam rolling exercises that will help you with Achilles Tendonitis are:
This foam roller calf massage focuses on your calf muscles rather than the tendon. It helps to reduce strain on your tendon and improves mobility and flexibility. You can use a regular foot-long foam roller with some ridges or knots.
Take the foam roller and place it under your right calf muscle while sitting on the surface/mat. Put your arms behind you on the surface and bend your left leg to keep your balance.
1. Lift your body off the surface and roll from your knee to calf muscles to relax your trigger points. Make sure not to move over your Achilles tendon.
2. Roll slowly and when you find the painful area, pause and hold there for 20-30 seconds before going on.
3. If the pain increases, then you can sit down. Using the top of your leg, you can still apply gentle pressure to your trigger point until it relaxes.
4. Once relaxed, shift to the left calf muscle and repeat this exercise.
Points to remember:
1. If you find stiff calf muscle, try to stay on it and flex your ankle like you push down on the gas pedal until it relaxes.
2. There are two parts to the calf muscle. So make sure to slowly twist your foot to the right and left to target these calf muscles.
3. If you want to apply more pressure, you can place your left above your right leg.
Experts recommend avoiding deep or firm pressure on the injured tendon itself.
Massage to Relieve Tension on the Sole:
It is a foam-rolling exercise to relieve tension in the sole of the feet. You can use a mini foam roller or a foam ball.
Place your right foot’s sole on the mini roller while standing up. Make sure that the roller is in the middle of your feet, allowing your toes to hang downwards.
- Slowly roll your feet back and forth on the foam roller, all the way to the heel bone.
- Apply comfortable pressure on the foam roller using your body weight.
- When you find the painful area, pause and hold there for 20-30 seconds before going on.
- Do this for 2 minutes to relax your plantar fascia (a thick band of tissue connecting the heel bone to toes)
- Once relaxed, shift to the left foot and repeat this exercise.
Points to remember:
- Throughout the roll, make sure to maintain steady and continuous pressure.
- While rolling, roll your foot to the right and left to target your foot’s inner and outer edges.
To Sum it Up
The essential point to remember is that there is a lot you can do to aid with Achilles tendonitis recovery. Using a foam roller to massage your Achilles tendon might help you recover faster.
It helps reduce tension in your muscles to improve your mobility and flexibility. But, it may take some time to get the desired outcomes, so be patient.
Hence, foam rolling is a quick and easy method to take away soreness, speed up recovery time and help relieve stress. So, roll out your calf, stretch it out, and self-massage your Achilles tendon.
Did you find the exercises in this article helpful? What are some of your favorite exercises using a foam roller? How have they worked for you?
Note: This information is not meant to replace medical advice. If you or someone you know is in pain, it’s always better to get professional assistance from an expert.