Strengthening Exercises for Partial Achilles Ruptures


Strengthening for a partial Achilles rupture should be done in conjunction with stretching only when the tendon is free from pain and swelling. Start with the easier exercises. When they become too easy, replace them with a more difficult exercise. Do not do all the exercises at once.

Exercise 1: Seated Calf Raise

Sit on a chair and raise up onto you toes. Again this is a gentle exercise that will strengthen the Soleus musles. Resting a weight on the knees will increase the resistance.

Start with 3 sets of 10 twice a day and increase a little every two or three days when you are sure there has been no adverse reaction (pain).


Exercise 2: Resistance Band Plantarflexion

This is a gentle exercise to start with. Hold a loop of resistance band and use it to apply restistance as the foot is pointed away (plantar flexed).
Start with just 3 sets of 10 once a day and build up to 3 sets of 20 three times a day. If it does not hurt the next day then increase the load. You may fine with this one you can increase the resistance quite quickly.


Exercise 3: Calf Raise - Both Legs

Stand on the edge of a step and lower the heels down, both at the same time. You can adjust the pressure on the injured leg by taking most of your weight on the good leg. Repeat this exercise as many times as is comfortable. Do not over-do it, especially in the early stages. It is better to do too little rather than risk causing inflammation to the tendon.

Repeat the exercise twice daily. Progress to doing two and then three sets at a time. Apply cold therapy to the Achilles tendon after exercise.

Exercise 4: Calf Raise - Single Leg

As above but using one leg instead. Repeat this exercise as many times as is comfortable. Again, do not over-do it, reduce the number of repetitions you were doing in the first exercise and build up again.

Repeat the exercise twice daily. Progress to doing two and then three sets at a time. Remember to do the good leg as well as the injured leg.

Do not do more on the good leg then the injured leg can cope with. Apply cold therapy to the Achilles tendon after exercise. Remember, you may feel discomfort initially but the aim is to maintain the exercises at the current level until you feel no pain during or after exercise.

Exercise 5: Walking Calf Raise

This exercise is more specific. Walk around pushing yourself up onto your toes each step. Start doing just 20 steps and increase each day until you can do 100. Do not progress too fast. A little each day. Be patient.

It is important to continue to do exercises 3 or 4 in addition to this one as it is important that the Achilles tendon gets strengthened in a stretched position.

Gradual Return to Fitness

Only when there is not pain at the site of injury should you begin to run again. Ensure you have the flexibility in the Achilles tendon and calf muscles to run.

Start jogging for only a few minutes and gradually increase each day. Only when you can run without pain during or after for 45 minutes should you attempt any speed work. See below for a sample return to running programme.

Continue to do the eccentric exercises (3 & 4) shown above throughout the return to full fitness.

When you have gone at least a week without pain then you can begin to return to training. If you feel pain when returning to training then stop. Begin each training session with a walk to warm up followed by stretching.

Day 1: walk 4 minutes jog 2 minutes repeat four times
Day 2: rest    
Day 3: walk 4 minutes jog 3 minutes repeat three times
Day 4: rest    
Day 5: walk 3 minutes jog 4 minutes repeat 4 times
Day 6: rest    
Day 7: walk 2 minutes jog 6 minutes repeat 4 times

Continue this gradual progression until you can confidently run and resume normal training.

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