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Achilles tendinopathy - don't put your feet up, get moving

Exercising with Achilles tendinopathy, a condition characterised by pain and inflammation in the Achilles tendon, can be beneficial when approached carefully and under the guidance of a healthcare professional. While rest and appropriate treatment are crucial components of managing Achilles tendinopathy, exercise can play a role in the rehabilitation process. Here are some potential benefits of exercising with Achilles tendinopathy:

Strengthening the Achilles Tendon:

  • Targeted exercises can help strengthen the Achilles tendon over time. Strengthening the tendon can improve its ability to handle loads and forces, reducing the risk of re-injury.

Maintaining Muscle Mass:

  • Exercising the lower leg muscles, particularly the calf muscles, can help maintain muscle mass while minimising stress on the injured tendon. This can prevent muscle atrophy during the recovery period.

Improved Blood Flow and Healing:

  • Gentle, controlled exercise can increase blood flow to the affected area, aiding in the healing process by supplying essential nutrients and removing waste products.

Tendon Adaptation:

  • Progressive loading exercises, prescribed by a physical therapist or healthcare provider, can help the tendon adapt to the demands of everyday activities, sports, or physical training without exacerbating symptoms.

Pain Management:

  • Some exercises and stretching routines can help alleviate pain and discomfort associated with Achilles tendinopathy. These exercises aim to improve flexibility, reduce muscle imbalances, and relieve tension.

Enhancing Proprioception:

  • Balance and proprioception exercises can improve the body's awareness of limb position and movement. This can be especially beneficial for injury prevention and improving gait.

Psychological Well-Being:

  • Staying physically active, even with modifications, can have positive effects on mental health. It can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression often associated with chronic injuries.

However, it's crucial to approach exercise with Achilles tendinopathy cautiously and with professional guidance to avoid worsening the condition. Here are some important considerations:

Consult a Healthcare Provider:

  • Always consult with a healthcare provider, such as a physical therapist or orthopaedic specialist, before starting any exercise program for Achilles tendinopathy. They can assess the severity of your condition and recommend appropriate exercises.

Gradual Progression:

  • Exercise programs should begin with light, low-impact activities and gradually progress in intensity and complexity as your tendon heals. Avoid high-impact activities that may exacerbate symptoms.

Proper Technique:

  • Ensure that exercises are performed with correct form to prevent further strain on the Achilles tendon or surrounding structures.

Pain Monitoring:

  • Pay close attention to pain levels during and after exercise. Mild discomfort may be expected, but sharp or worsening pain should be avoided.

Individualised Plan:

  • Your exercise program should be tailored to your specific needs and goals. What works for one person with Achilles tendinopathy may not work for another.

Remember that recovery from Achilles tendinopathy can be a lengthy process, and patience is essential. Rest and conservative management should always be prioritised, and exercise should complement your overall treatment plan. It's crucial to work closely with healthcare professionals to ensure the most appropriate and effective exercise regimen for your specific condition.


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