Achilles tendinopathy is a frustrating injury for many athletes, particularly runners. It is oftentimes a lingering nuisance because some of the “go-to” treatment methods are likely impeding recovery instead of effectively returning the injured athlete to training. Achilles tendinopathy is an insertional tendinopathy, and it is important to reduce the irritating compression of the tendon in the initial stages of any insertional tendinopathy.
When a runner has pain, the common initial reaction is to stretch the tender area. Stretching of the calf involves dorsiflexion (see images), the movement or position that further aggravates a sensitive Achilles tendon by compressing the tendon against its insertion (where the tendon connects to the bone). Although this movement or position is not inherently bad for the Achilles tendon, limiting it for a brief period of time is necessary to facilitate recovery of an Achilles tendinopathy. Moral of the story…if you suspect you have this injury, resist the urge to stretch!