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What Exercise can I do with Achilles Tendonitis?

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Posted 2 years ago


Last updated: 08/11/2023


by James McCormack

James McCormack
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In our experience, you can walk with Achilles Tendonitis.

Achilles Tendonitis involves the inflammation and irritation of the Achilles tendon, which can sometimes cause pain or discomfort while walking.

Here are some guidelines for walking with Achilles Tendonitis:

  1. Pay Attention to Pain: If your pain is constant when walking and begins to increase, then you should stop and take a rest.
  2. 24-Hour Rule: Keep track of how your Achilles tendon responds within 24 hours after walking. If you experience more pain the day after walking than you did previously, this might indicate an overload, and you should reduce the intensity or duration of your walks.
  3. Short and Frequent Walks: If you experience discomfort, it might be helpful to take shorter but more frequent walks. Walking for 15-20 minutes at a time can allow the tendon time to recover between walks
  4. Wear Supportive Footwear: Wearing shoes with good arch support and cushioning can help reduce stress on the Achilles tendon.

In summary, you can continue to walk with Achilles Tendonitis but should be done cautiously. 

Can I hike with Achilles Tendonitis?

The undulating surfaces associated with hiking can place greater stretch and tension on the Achilles Tendon. As a result, it is not recommended to hike with Achilles Tendonitis as it can irritate your symptoms and slow the recovery process.

If you live in an area with short, low-gradient hills, this might be a place to begin your return to hiking once your pain begins to improve, and you should gradually increase your distance from that point under the guidance of a Physical Therapist.

Can I run with Achilles Tendonitis?

If it is too painful to walk with Achilles Tendonitis, we recommend you refrain from running until you have settled your Achilles Tendon pain. Once it is pain-free walking, you can begin a gradual return to running.


If you have mild Achilles Tendonitis pain running or pain after running, you can run with Achilles Tendonitis. The critical factor we consider is the tendon’s irritability, how long the pain lasts within 24 hours of a run.


If the pain does not subside in this period, we recommend reducing the speed or distance of the next run, but it is better to continue running even if it is much less than your normal levels than stopping altogether.

How to run with Achilles Tendonitis?

There are some key considerations when running with Achilles Tendonitis to reduce the force and pressure placed on the Achilles Tendon. First, maintaining a high cadence of 171 steps per minute or more has been shown to reduce the forces placed on the Achilles Tendon.


Running upright can limit over-striding and reduce the amount of dorsiflexion on the ankle during peak mid-stance. External factors to consider are wearing trainers with a high drop height, meaning the height is more significant on the back of the trainer compared to the front.


A high drop shortens the Achilles Tendon, so less pressure is placed on it. If you have a low-drop shoe, you could consider placing a heel wedge in your shoe, but we find that they move around and are uncomfortable when running.

Can I run a Marathon with Achilles Tendonitis?

People commit a lot of time and effort to preparing for a marathon and feel a lot of pressure to do it if they have a charity place, so we often face the question in the clinic.

In short, if pain allows, you can run a marathon with Achilles Tendonitis, but it is not something we would recommend. Running a marathon with Achilles Tendonitis can irritate your symptoms considerably and delay the healing process and overall recovery.


picture of two people Running w

Related Article: Best Running Shoes for Achilles Tendonitis

What is the best cardiovascular exercise for Achilles Tendonitis?

Can I use the Elliptical with Achilles Tendonitis?

No impact is involved when using the elliptical machine, and it places less tension and force through the Achilles tendon than walking.

You can therefore use the Elliptical with Achilles Tendonitis as an alternative exercise to walking or running.

Can I cycle with Achilles Tendonitis?

Achilles Tendonitis is primarily aggravated by weight-bearing and impact activities such as walking, running or jumping.

You can cycle with Achilles Tendonitis, but we would recommend considering the following to reduce the levels of force applied to the Achilles Tendon:


  • Maintain a high cadence
  • Don’t stand out of the saddle
  • Wear cleats to support the ankle
  • Cycle on flat roads or on a stationary bike

Can I swim with Achilles Tendonitis?

Swimming is one of the best forms of cardiovascular exercise for Achilles tendonitis, and it is an excellent alternative to running, jumping or walking as there is no impact or tension placed on the Achilles Tendon.

If we are being pedantic, we recommend avoiding tumble turning or diving to reduce pressure on the tendon.

What Exercises Can I do in the Gym with Achilles Tendonitis?

Can I squat with Achilles Tendonitis?

In our experience, yes, you can squat with Achilles Tendonitis. Impact activity places the most significant strain on the Achilles Tendon, and the forces generated when running are up to x9 times a person’s body weight.


With this in mind, it is difficult to replicate that weight through your Achilles Tendon when doing a squat, so it is unlikely to cause any harm.


If you have pain in your Achilles Tendon when squatting, try placing a wedge under your heel to shorten the tendon.



Can I deadlift with Achilles Tendonitis?

Yes, you can deadlift when you have Achilles Tendonitis. If you have any discomfort in your Achilles tendon when deadlifting, consider wearing a heeled shoe or placing a heel raise inside your shoe to shorten the Achilles Tendon.


Avoid deadlifting barefoot, as it can put increased tension on the tendon.

Can I lift weights with Achilles Tendonitis?

Yes, you can lift weights with Achilles Tendonitis. Weight training is the most effective form of treatment for Achilles Tendonitis.


The Alfredson Protocol was developed using calf-raise variations to cure plantar fasciitis. Another protocol involves heavy, slow calf raises using the leg press machine.


All forms of weight lifting can be continued as we mustn’t let the tendon become deconditioned.

Picture of a person doing an overhead squat

What Sports Can I Do With Achilles Tendonitis?

Can you Ski with Achilles Tendonitis?

Generally, you can ski Achilles Tendonitis; as you are locked into a ski boot and minimal force goes through the tendon.


It is essential to ensure you have well-fitting boots; if they are too tight, they can rub off the retrocalcaneal bursa and cause bursitis.


Otherwise, we recommend numbing the tendon with ice regularly throughout the day.

Can you play Golf with Achilles Tendonitis?

If you have pain walking a short distance, we don’t recommend playing golf with Achilles Tendonitis. However, if you can tolerate short distances, you could golf using a buggy or at least a trolley rather than carrying your golf bag.


The walking and time on your feet when playing golf aggravates Achilles Tendonitis rather than the golfing motion.

Can you play Basketball with Achilles Tendonitis?

Sprinting and jumping are some of the primary movements that aggravate Achilles Tendonitis, so we wouldn’t recommend playing basketball with Achilles Tendonitis.


If you play, it is worth icing the tendon between plays and wearing a cushioned trainer to reduce the impact through the tendon.

Picture of a man skiing

What exercises should I avoid with Achilles Tendonitis?

When the Achilles Tendon is irritable, you should avoid skipping, hopping, jumping and running exercises.

Exercises such as running on the treadmill and jump rope skipping should be avoided until the pain is stable before reintroducing them slowly under the guidance of a Physical Therapist.

Physiotherapy with James McCormack

This is not medical advice. We recommend a consultation with a medical professional such as James McCormack. He offers Online Physiotherapy Appointments weekly.

Related Article: Achilles Tendonitis: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

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