Have you ever had that nagging pain in the Achilles that keeps you from running, jumping, hiking, or simply walking without pain? Wish you could help stop this pain on your own? Below is a guide to help with self-treatment. Before starting a treatment, develop a test/re-test measure. Choose any active motion or movement that is painful—do the motion prior to and after treatment to help see improvements or decide if further treatment is necessary.
Treatment starts with mobilizing the calf muscles. The looser they are, the less stress is placed on the Achilles. Follow up with cross friction massage to the area. End with exercise, giving eccentric stress through the muscle to get the Achilles back to full strength.
Self-Mobilization of the Calf:
When rolling out the calf make sure that you get all of it; inside, outside, middle and top to bottom. If one spot is sore, sit on that position till it releases. One side should take 2-5 minutes, more than this can break down the muscle too much and cause increased soreness.
This should be very uncomfortable. It is done to increase blood flow and cause micro disruptions in the tissue to get it to re-organize. To do this place either one or both thumbs on the Achilles and quickly go across the tissue. You should push with about 60-75% strength, make sure you can still move over the tendon. Perform 2-3 sets of 20-30 seconds. Too long or too much of this can cause increased pain, so start off shorter. (Picture Above)
Single Leg Eccentrics:
The lowering phase is the key to stressing the tendon. Ideally you should be performing this with increasing weight to the point where you are unable to perform the concentric (up part of the calf raise), but you can control the lowering. To do this perform a double leg calf raise then shift all your weight onto the painful side and slowly lower yourself over a 3-5 second period. You can hold onto something for balance as needed.
To start off, perform 1-2 sets of 8-12 body weight reps. Second progression, perform 2-3 sets 5-10 reps with 5-20 pounds. Last progression, perform 2-3 sets of 5-10 reps with 30+ pounds. Make sure to keep the slow lowering in all phases with smooth motion and minimal discomfort. Do not progress until there is no soreness in the Achilles either during or the next day following the exercises. This should be completed 1-2 times a day, initially every other day. Rest is just as important as the exercise.