November may mean most trees are past their fall foliage peak, but Massachusetts is still beautiful. Hiking around places like Weir Hill in North Andover demonstrates that. These trails stretch for a few miles, bordering a beautiful lake and challenging your muscles. Hiking is a great form of exercise, though it can strain your lower limbs—including your Achilles tendon. Achilles tendonitis is uncomfortable and can limit your activities. Fortunately, there are a number of Achilles and ankle stretches that can help relieve discomfort.

Achilles tendonitis is a problem with stiffening and inflammation in the large tendon that attaches your calf muscle to the back of your heel. Usually it’s an overuse injury caused by tight calf muscles or a sudden increase in the intensity or amount of exercise you’re doing. The tendon becomes strained and painful. Stretching out the irritated tissue helps loosen and relax it, so it’s less stressed. Here are a few basic but effective Achilles and ankle stretches that may help:

  • Foot on Wall – Stand an arm’s length away from a wall with both feet pointing straight forward. Put one foot on the wall about knee height. Slowly press your heel toward the wall, stopping when you feel the stretch. Don’t lean forward at all; just hold for a few seconds, relax, and repeat with the other foot.
  • Wall Lunge – Stand with your palms against a wall and one foot several inches behind the other. Lunge forward on the front foot, keeping your back straight and your heels planted on the ground. Keep your rear knee straight for several seconds, then bend it and the stretch hold for a few more.
  • Heel Drops – Stand with your heels hanging off a step. Allow them to drop down slowly until you feel the pull. Hold the stretch for a few seconds, then return to neutral and repeat ten times.

Stretching is a great way to help relieve some of the painful tension from Achilles tendonitis, but it may not take care of the problem. You don’t have to let painful heels and ankles keep you from hiking or other activities, though. Let the Mitchell Wachtel, DPM expert staff help you find the best solution for your foot pain. Just contact our North Andover, Lowell, or Haverhill, MA, offices by calling (978) 794-8406 or by using the website.