I see people with achilles pain stretching their achilles constantly.
The problem with this is that tightness is just a sensation. Often people feel tight in the calf because of the position they stand in all day long.
Likewise if you have pain, the body is going to protect you from going through any extreme range of motion for safety reasons. So it provides a sensation that encourages you to stop.
Below is a picture of a common posture or position that many people stand in often.
As you can see, the hips are forward as compared to the lateral portion of the ankle joint. So if your hips and your ribs flare forward you are essentially leaning forward on the balls of your feet. In order to prevent yourself from falling forward, you calf muscles have to contract in a lengthened position to hold you upright.
So in other words you calf muscles are always on. So just by position, this individuals calf muscles are already on stretch.
The other reason you should avoid stretching an achilles injury (especially the closer it gets to the insertion on the heel) is because a tendon injury implies the the tissue/tendon is compromised. We all know that muscles are elastic. So I like to use the analogy of a rubber band. If you stretch a rubber band too much it becomes weaker. Furthermore, if the structure of the rubber band is compromised, it doesn't hold up to well to aggressive stretching. So why would you treat your muscles this way?
This image I think explains a lot about how the structure of your heel (calcaneus) impacts the achilles tendon. And why if you have consistently been stretching your tendon it can cause friction against the bone....
More than likely you need to introduce a strengthening program. This is done through an appropriate range of motion depending on your presentation. Addressing some positional faults as well, which we eluded to earlier would just be icing on the cake.
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About the Author: Dr. Greg Schaible is a physical therapist/strength coach specializing in athletic performance. He attended The University of Findlay, graduating in 2013 with his Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT). As a Track and Field athlete, he was as a 5x Division II All-American and 6x Division II Academic All-American. Greg is the owner of On Track Physiotherapy in Ann Arbor, Mi. You can stay up to date with helpful information and news on Facebook.