Samson had his hair, and Achilles had his heel. The thing is, we also have Achilles’ heel.
Achilles pain occurs seemingly straight outta nowhere. We walk hundreds of thousands of steps, run miles, dunk hoops, jump hurdles, and skate circles without so much as a bark from the achilles tendon.
Then one day all hell breaks loose and suddenly you feel like a red hot poker took up residence. and the elastic properties of this once springy tissue now more resemble a block of wood.
And since we’re constantly using this tendon to, you know, walk, it can be difficult for these tissues to get the rest they need to heal on their own.
That simply will not do. After all, you gotta move, and few problems are more restrictive than heel bone pain.
Here I’ve compiled some easy and effective tools for deal with heel pain and get back on your feet as quickly as possible.
How Does Achilles Pain Happen?
To put it simply, Achilles pain most often occurs as an “overuse” injury.
This can be hard to predict for, as Achilles tendons are designed to handle a lifetime of use and abuse.
However, seldom discussed is the factor of under-use.
You see, it’s not just that you ran too much or played too many pick-up games.
It can also be that you didn’t move enough during the rest of the day. Mild regular use of tissues through a wide range of motion is one of the best preventative measures for pain. Often it’s not the intensity or frequency of your exercise activities that causes pain, but the combination of that with how stagnant those tissues are the rest of the time.
Now, if you’re reading this article, then I can safely assume you already have pain.
Here at The Ready State, we address Achilles pain using a 4 part process called D2R2.
The D2R2 method stands for:
This article will go over the principles of this system which we use in our larger Achilles Pain Protocol, which contains 28 techniques for resolving Achilles pain.
Here you’ll get an overview of the principles themselves and a technique to go with each so you can start the process of resolving pain, and, if it’s still mild, hopefully eliminating it here and now.
Desensitize, Decongest, and Reperfuse: Sore Achilles Treatment Pain
Our first order of business is getting some sweet sweet relief.
Desensitizing techniques are aimed at quickly turning down the pain signal so you can get back to your life, thereby relieving stress and getting your head out of fight or flight mode.
Furthermore, we want to work towards decongesting the tissues and reperfusing blood flow back into the offended area. If we can manage this, pain outcomes are much more likely to be happy.
One of the first and foremost tools for both these purposes is percussion & vibration devices. Even if you don’t own a percussion device of your own, many gyms now offer them. They can offer distinct advantages for rapidly decongesting a tissue as well as desensitizing the pain response. Percussion hits 3 out of 4 bases in one go, and can prepare us for the restore phase.
We recommend the Hyperice percussion device, but whatever you have access to will work just fine.
Spend 2 to 5 minutes on percussion and vibration daily, per leg, to desensitize, decongest, and reperfuse your Achilles tissue.
If you don’t have access to percussion therapy devices, you can use a combination of Gua Sha and VooDoo flossing. You can desensitize, decongest, and reperfuse the Achilles. Gua Sha mainly works for mild desensitization and decongestion, and VooDoo floss works well for desensitization and reperfusion.
Do at least one of these techniques daily for 2 to 5 minutes, or do both back to back. If not doing both, try to alternate daily.
VooDoo floss is inexpensive and can be purchased at our store, and Gua Sha can be performed with the back of a butter knife.
Restore Function To The Achilles
In addition to desensitizing pain and restoring blood flow, we want to work on getting the Achilles functioning again. This means restoring the range of motion and optimal positioning.
You see, one of our mottos at The Ready State is that where the rats get in isn’t necessarily where they chew.
And while pain may be occurring in your Achilles, the whole foot, ankle, and calf system is involved in the occurrence of this pain.
Do the calf roller mobilization at least once a day to restore function to the ankle, Achilles, and calf muscle.
Prevent: Walk It Off
Okay, don’t literally walk it off if you’re still in pain, but as soon as you can, start walking more. I suggest getting 8000 steps a day as prevention for all kinds of pain. However, it’s especially important for anything going on with the feet.
Our feet and Achilles are designed to be used. We need them to explore their whole range of motion and to be strong capable members of society. Foot society, that is.
Weak feet, whether as a result of orthotics (my thoughts on that here) or too little movement can lead to weak Achilles.
Active feet help keep your ankles, Achilles and calf mobile and strong so they can handle whatever you throw at them.
Bonus: Spot Drills
As your Achilles begins to heal, consider implementing spot drills into your training. The purpose of these drills is to expand your ability to use your Achilles in a wide range of motion. Thereby, helping armor you against future pain.
Jumping rope is a simple and accessible spot drill that is great for the achilles.
Do 200 hops with both legs, then do 100 on one leg and 100 on the other.
Stretch and Strengthen Your Achilles Heel
In conclusion, Achilles pain can be pesky but it doesn’t have to be persistent. This tendon is designed to last a lifetime, but the reason it sometimes doesn’t is that we can fall into a trap of too much intensity during exercise combined with too little movement the rest of the day.
Addressing the problem means taking the time to do some mobility work, namely following a protocol we call D2R2.
Accomplishing these tasks will relieve pain and promote healing. They restore function by getting back to the functional positions and range of motion our Achilles is meant for.
If you’re still experiencing pain despite the techniques in this guide, you may want to go further. Check out our 28-part Achilles Pain Protocol. While I’ve included some of the best bang-for-your-buck mobilizations here, our tissues are complex. The full protocol features stretching and strengthening exercises. It’s designed to find every possible entry point whereby pain occurs.
How To Treat Achilles Tendon Pain FAQs
Got questions on how to treat sore Achilles tendon? Read on the most common FAQs below.
What is the fastest way to heal Achilles tendonitis?
When I say fastest, I don’t mean lightning speed. But if you’re wondering how to heal Achilles pain fast, the D2R2 (Desensitize, Decongest, Reperfuse, Restore) method can be helpful.
This 4-part Achilles tendon relief technique focuses on reducing pain, relieving stress, and promoting healing. For this, you’ll need percussion & vibration devices, such as the Hyperice percussion device. These devices can be used daily for 2 to 5 minutes per leg to desensitize, decongest, and reperfuse Achilles tissues.
Pro Tip: A good sub for this device is a combo of Gua Sha and VooDoo flossing
How long does it take for a sore Achilles tendon to heal?
There’s no fixed timeframe, unfortunately. But the faster you tend to it, the better your tendon can get. The D2R2 method aims to experience relief and promote healing over time. The duration of healing may vary depending on the severity of the condition and individual factors.
What are two signs of Achilles tendonitis?
Achilles tendonitis pops up out of nowhere. There are no 2 specific signs, but be on the lookout for swelling, stiffness, and pain in the Achilles tendon area.
Can Achilles tendonitis heal on its own?
Achilles tendonitis can be challenging to heal on its own, but it’s possible! Constant use of the tendon during activities such as walking can prevent healthy tissue regeneration. But you can boost recovery in the area with our recommended D2R2 method. Do it consistently and you’ll be performing heel lifts in no time.
Is walking good for Achilles tendonitis?
Despite what I’ve said about constant tendon use affecting tissue recovery, I still recommend walking. It’s an important part of the restoration process. It can prevent tendonitis from creeping back again. Practice walking 8,000 steps a day–just make sure the pain has already decreased. In cases of severe pain or tendon injury, it’s best not to do so right away.
If this guide helped you or you have questions, let us know in the comments. Reduce pain and swelling in the tendon area, and be back on your Ready State!