The Achilles tendon is both the longest and strongest tendon in the body, however the wear and tear of running and other high-intensity activities can injure the tendon. Achilles tendon massage can benefit the body in multiple ways, two of which are to speed up healing and reduce pain. If you’re looking to learn more about how massage can help your Achilles tendon injuries keep scrolling!
If you’re suffering from Achilles tendon pain check out these easy self massage techniques you can do at home. Your physical therapist or massage therapist can also help guide you through these techniques for optimal rehab.
One of the best massage techniques for Achilles tendonitis is the cross friction massage. This type of warm up massage helps to realign the scar tissue fibers as they grow to repair your Achilles tendon. Typically, scar tissue doesn’t align properly making it more likely for you to re-injure your Achilles tendon after the first running injury.
To start off with a cross friction massage, grab on either side of your Achilles tendon with your thumb and forefinger and rub back and forth. The movement should not be up and down the tendon.
A deep tissue massage involves pressing deep into the soft tissue to reach the muscle and fascia. It will relieve tight calf muscles, break up adhesions, and increase mobility. Do not apply a deep tissue massage directly onto the Achilles tendon. This can create more irritation and pain. Your overall goal is twofold, relaxing and lengthening the muscle. A tight calf muscle can put added strain and stress on the Achilles tendon.
The most effective way to perform a deep tissue massage is by using a massage tool; such as a foam roller, massage cane or ball to help press deep enough into your tight calf muscles and the Achilles tendon.
However, you can simply achieve a deep tissue calf massage by relaxing your lower leg and using your hands slowly press deep into the calf, moving your hands up and down the muscle. Stop and focus on any trigger points or muscle knots, keep massaging these spots until you find pain relief.
Ice massage is a self-massage technique that combines pressure and cold to achieve positive results. The cold numbs the sensation of pain and reduces blood flow to the area. The decrease in blood flow will reduce swelling in the area. The movement of massage will mobilize the fluids within your tissue, encouraging them to return to the vessels and release tension within your muscles.
Massage for a few minutes at a time about 3x a day. Increase the pressure as you go. You may feel some discomfort as you start but it should stop after about a minute. If the pain does not go away then stop, your Achilles tendon should not be massaged.
Massage is not always the right treatment for Achilles tendon injuries. You should not use massage:
Achilles tendonitis tends to happen from overuse. If you are feeling pain on the back of the heel give it a few days of rest and ice. After the initial pain has subsided then you can start the massage. If you heard a popping sound from the back of your heel then there is a good chance you ruptured your Achilles tendon. Stop activities immediately and contact your doctor.
Massage therapy can be done at home but sometimes self massage isn’t possible. If you can’t reach the area you want, can’t press hard enough, or just are unsure of your skills then it’s time to contact a professional massage therapist. They are trained to treat multiple conditions with massage therapy and know the ins and outs of manual therapy.
Sports massage can be a part of physical therapy as well. A physical therapist can evaluate your running injury and develop a treatment plan that involves massage. They will be able to help you regain your range of motion and guide you through the entire recovery phase so you can resume physical activity.
Achilles tendon and heel pain are often caused by an overuse injury. This injury can lead to Achilles tendinopathy. One treatment option is massage therapy. Self-treatment through Achilles tendon massage should be practiced after careful evaluation by your doctor or physical therapist. Once you have been cleared, start off slowly working your way up on both pressure and frequency. Over time, you will improve your flexibility and minimize pain.
Sources:Achilles Tendonitis Products
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