If you're a runner, then you know that the Achilles tendon is one of the most important muscles in your body. It's responsible for helping you push off the ground and run faster. That's why it's so important to stretch this muscle regularly, especially if you're prone to injuries.
In this blog post, we will teach you everything you need to know about the best Achilles stretches for runners. We'll explain how to do them properly and what they do for your body.
- Tips for Achilles Stretches for Runners
- Runner's Stretch
- Toe-to-Wall Stretch
- Heel Drop
- Seated Heel Raises
- Standing Heel Raises
- Resistance Band Calf Exercise
Runners should always be looking to stretch their Achilles tendon before every run they have. That means that regardless of whether you feel any pain or stiffness in your Achilles tendon, you should perform adequate stretches ahead of time.
When stretching, it's incredibly important to take your time and move slowly through every exercise. Remember, you're trying to lengthen your Achilles tendon, not tear it.
If you start to feel pain, ease off the stretch and try again another day. Don't make any kind of bouncing motion which may cause the muscles to contract and tear. You want to hold each stretch for at least 20-30 seconds to get the full benefit.
When performing the stretches below, always try to keep your heel down as much as possible. Flat on the ground is ideal but if you can't get it completely flat at least try to get your heel as low as you can to get the most out of the stretch. If you are ever in pain go ahead and stop and let your body recover before moving forward with running and stretching.
Also known as the calf stretch, the runner's stretch is one of the most important Achilles stretches for runners. To do this stretch, stand with your feet about hip-width apart and your hands on a wall or chair for support.
Move the leg you want to stretch behind you like you are completing a lunge and keep your heel flat on the ground. Then, bend your other knee toward the wall while still keeping the other foot flat on the ground.
Lean forward until you feel a stretch in your calf and Achilles tendon. You should feel this stretch in the back of your leg. Hold for about 30 seconds or longer and do 2-3 reps on each leg.
If your upper body is feeling stiff and you won't want to use it as much as the runner's stretch, you'll want to try out this toe-to-wall stretch instead. To do the stretch, stand with your feet about hip-width apart facing a wall, and have your toes touch up against the wall.
Place the toes of one foot slightly up the wall so they are elevated while the other foot is flat on the ground. Try to lean as forward as you can to stretch the tendon that is elevated on the wall.
Hold the position for about 30 seconds and then try the other foot. Repeat for about 2-3 reps with each foot.
The heel drop is easy if you have a staircase or a stepladder to use. To start, hold on to the staircase or ladder and place the ball of your foot on the edge of the steps with your heel hanging off.
Then, let your heel drop down as far as it can go before rising back up. You should feel a stretch in your calf and Achilles tendon. Perform about 15 reps on each leg or until you start to feel fatigued.
Working out the calves is just as important as the Achilles tendon itself because you'll strengthen the tendon by working on your calves. Start by sitting down on a chair with your feet flat on the ground and legs bent at a 90-degree angle.
Then, raise your heels as high off the ground as you can while keeping your toes and balls of your feet on the ground. Slowly lower back down to complete one rep. Aim for about 15 reps or until you start to feel fatigued.
This exercise is essentially the exact same as the seated heel raise except you'll be standing instead of sitting. To do the stretch, start by standing with your feet hip-width apart and flat on the ground.
Then, raise your heels as high off the ground as you can while keeping your toes and balls of your feet on the ground. Slowly lower back down to complete one rep. You can do both feet at the same time if you have good balance or you can focus on one calf at a time.
You can also use a wall for more stability if you feel yourself tipping over.
Resistance bands are great for working out at home without any fancy equipment. For this exercise, you'll need a resistance band that is long enough to wrap around both of your legs just above your knees.
Start by sitting on the floor or on a bed and extend both legs straight in front of you. Take the resistance band and place it under the ball of your foot and hold on the other end with your hands.Pull the band to flex the foot towards you, pause, and then release the foot away from you. Continue to do about 3 sets of 10-15 reps.
What is the best walking boot for Achilles tendonitis?
Some of the most popular boots for treating Achilles tendonitis include the Donjoy Velocity (or "boot cast"), the Aircast Air-Stirrup Ankle Support, and the Salomon S/Lab.
What are the best running sneakers for Achilles tendonitis?
Some popular options include sneakers with good cushioning and support, such as Asics Gel Nimbus or Brooks Ghost models. Additionally, sneakers with a low heel-to-toe drop (the difference in height between the heel and toe of the sneaker) may also be helpful, such as Hoka One One or Altra models.
What is the best Achilles support for running?
You can add heel lifts to your running shoes and perform pre and post-stretching exercises for every run. You can also soak your Achilles in warm water after each run to prevent stiffening and improve blood circulation.