Physical Therapy for Achilles Tendon Tear and Rupture


Achilles tendon tear and rupture is a common  sports injury among athletes and non-athletes alike, particularly runners and cyclists. Also known as Achilles tendoinitis or Achilles tendinopathy, this injury involves a partial or total break in the Achilles tendon, which connects the heel and the calf muscle. The injury can occur gradually from misuse or improper exercise, or suddenly from a strain or stumble. Recovery always takes several months.


  1. Stretching

  2. The primary type of physical therapy for Achilles tendon tear and rupture is simple stretching and massage to keep the joint flexible and minimize risk of re-injury. Stretches include standing on the toes and the heels, as well as rolling the ankle in small circles in both directions. Some physical therapy also incorporates mild weight lifting and resistance training  further into recovery, because muscle imbalance between the two legs greatly increases the risk of re-injury.

    Resting the Injury

  3. The most important aspect of physical therapy for Achilles tendon tear and rupture is to rest until your injury is evaluated by a physician. Because very severe Achilles tendinitis requires surgery to restore the Achilles tendon, keep weight off the injury to avoid further damage before you see a doctor. Whether or not your injury requires surgery, rest is a key component of physical therapy for Achilles tendinitis. When not conducting therapy exercises you should rest your heel in an elevated position and compress the injury with a wrap.

    Pain Relief for Inflammation

  4. During physical therapy and recovery from Achilles tendinitis, therapists recommend applying an ice pack for 10-15 minutes several times a day to relieve the inflammation and swelling. You might also receive a prescription for extra-strength anti-inflammatory medication. Some physical therapists or sports medicine professionals also do an ice massage while the area is healing, usually after a therapy session.

    Physical Therapy Tools

  5. Physical therapy can also involve other types of medical instruments to stimulate recovery and maximize the effectiveness of stretching exercises. Ultrasound heat therapy or electrical nerve stimulation might be used to stimulate blood flow around the Achilles tendon. Your therapist might also recommend that you wear a special heel pad or orthotic insert in your shoe to keep the Achilles tendon aligned and to reduce strain on the tendon while walking, all to reduce the risk of re-injury during recovery.

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