How To Perform Achilles Tendon Massage Therapy: All You Need To Know

Humans have used massage techniques for centuries. Athletes, in particular, know how far massage can go especially when it comes to relieving muscle pain or stiffness.

While some massage techniques require the talent of a professional, most can be done at home. If you have an injury involving the Achilles tendon, Achilles tendon massage therapy can be used to speed up recovery.

Before we go into how to perform this massage, let’s first clarify what injuries can be treated with this technique.

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Massage Therapy For A Ruptured Achilles Tendon 

If you have performed the Achilles Tendon Rupture test and have a positive result, you will be faced with two options: surgical or non-surgical treatment. 

  • Surgical treatment involves stitching the tendon back together surgically. After about 6 weeks, massage therapy around the calves’ muscles may begin. (1,2)
  • ​For those who choose the non-surgical approach, recovery may take longer. Your foot is braced in plantar flexion for three weeks.

After this, weight-bearing exercises may begin. It will also take up to 6 weeks before you can try and perform massage therapy.

According to studies, a non-surgical approach takes longer than the surgical approach.

In both cases, Achilles tendon strength exercises such as the heel cord stretch are performed for faster recovery.

Massage Therapy For Achilles Tendinitis

Achilles Tendinitis is considered to be an overuse injury of the Achilles tendon and is very common in runners. Factors that contribute to the condition include the sudden increase in intensity or duration.

  • Symptoms include mild pain in the back of the leg or above the heel after running. (3)

Insertional Achilles Tendinitis is another related condition that affects many athletes. It occurs when the fibers of the Achilles tendon located at the place where it inserts to the heel bone start to degenerate. (4)

In both conditions, massage therapy may be used to alleviate symptoms and speed recovery. 

4 Achilles Tendon Massage Techniques

Achilles Tendon Massage Techniques

Before we start the breakdown of how these techniques are performed, please remember that you first need to consult a professional about your condition.

  • Massage may seem harmless but performed in the wrong way for the wrong condition can be disastrous.

These four massage techniques can be used to help break down scar tissue as in the case of post-surgical Achilles tendon rupture and Achilles tendinitis. They can also stimulate blood flow and stretch the calf which promotes healing.

Before starting to massage, warm up the muscles by gently applying oil around the calf area up to the knee and down to the ankle. This ensures that the muscles are warmed up and ready for the message.

1. Transverse Friction Massage

  • Sit with your affected leg crossed over your other leg positioned in a way that your ankles are relaxed.
  • With your thumb and forefinger, look for tender spots up and down the tendon
  • When you find a painful spot, pinch the tendon between your fingers
  • Massage back and forth at right angles to the direction of the tendon
  • Perform this 10-15 minutes every other day

2. Achilles Tendon Stripping Massage

  • The patient will need to lie face down with the ankles hanging at the edge of the bed unsupported
  • ​Clasp the Achilles tendon between both thumbs wrapping the rest of your fingers under and around the leg
  • ​Start from the point of the heel up towards the calf muscles applying deeper pressure gradually

3. Cross Friction Massage

  • The patient should lie face down to allow access to the Achilles Tendon
  • ​Use the first two fingers to apply gentle pressure in the transverse direction to the tendon
  • ​Be careful that not too much oil is applied or it will be difficult to perform this technique
  • Apply frictions for 2-5 minutes

4. Circular Friction Massage

  • The patient is in the same face-down position
  • ​Place the middle finger on each side of the Achilles tendon and apply pressure in a circular motion
  • ​Try to feel the tendon beneath the fingers
  • Apply enough pressure so that it is uncomfortable but not painful
  • ​Apply frictions for 2-5 minutes

Light massage techniques may be safely performed daily but deeper techniques should be performed every other day to allow for recovery.

Always assess the results of the massage technique used and if pain or swelling increases, discontinue.

It may also be helpful to apply ice therapy for 10 minutes after treatment

Conclusion

Clearly, massage therapy is an effective way to speed up recovery especially if it has been recommended by your physician. While you are recovering from an Achilles tendon injury, make sure you use the best shoes for Achilles Tendinitis to prevent further injury.

Also, continue to strengthen your Achilles tendon with different stretching techniques. 

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