The 10 Best Achilles Stretches For Runners

If you haven’t suffered from any Achilles tendon pain as a runner yet, you are definitely doing something, if not a lot of things, right with your training. 

Our Achilles tendon is notorious for giving us a hard time as it is susceptible to a variety of overuse injuries, commonly caused by running or other sports that include sprinting and jumping. 

Not only will we take a look into the issues our Achilles tendon can cause us, but preventative measures we can take to help avoid them, such as strengthening, dynamic stretching, and Achilles stretches for runners. 

In this stretching guide, we will cover: 

  • What Is The Achilles Tendon?
  • What is Achilles Tendonitis?
  • How Can I Help Prevent Achilles Tendonitis?
  • Tips For Stretching Properly
  • The 10 Best Achilles Stretches For Runners (+ Strengthening Exercises)

Ready? 

Let’s stretch! 

Achilles Stretches For Runners: toe to wall stretch

Before we get into what we can do for our Achilles tendon, let’s be sure we know exactly what we are talking about regarding anatomy and function.

What is the Achilles Tendon? 

The Achilles tendon, the largest and strongest tendon in the human body, is a band of tissue in the back of your leg that attaches your calf muscle to your heel. 

Your Achilles tendon is used to lift your heel off the ground, making it a vital player in being able to stand up on your tiptoes, walk, jump, climb stairs, and of course, run. We need it for every single launch in our running cadence, which puts it under loads of stress. 

This is where our Achilles stretches for runners come in. They are a way to try and relieve some of that tension we build up day after day, run after run.

What is Achilles Tendonitis? 

Achilles tendon overuse injuries are prevalent in runners due to the constant tension and stress placed on this band of fibrous tissue and its poor blood supply. One of the most common of these running injuries is Achilles Tendonitis. 

A person holding their Achilles tendon.

Symptoms of Achilles Tendonitis include: 

  • Pain in the back of the leg and/or heel after or during running
  • Pain and stiffness and/or limited range of motion 
  • Tenderness, weakness, and/or swelling in the area

If you are experiencing these symptoms, you can take action to improve your condition. Check out our article on Achilles Tendonitis for more detailed treatment information:

Achille’s Tendonitis For Runners: How To Treat It (And Keep Running)

Hopefully, you have not quite gotten that far and are looking to nip this issue in the bud by taking preventative action. Let’s see how!

A person stretching their calf against a brick wall.

How Can I Help Prevent Achilles Tendonitis?

There are preventative measures you can take to help avoid injury to your Achilles tendons, including: 

  • Increasing your volume gradually by following the 10% rule.
  • Strengthening and stretching your calf muscles by following our Achilles stretches for runners guide.
Two people doing calf raises.

Keeping your Achilles tendons happy and healthy will take some strength training exercises.

To strengthen your calf muscles, you can add some of the following exercises into your weight training program: 

  • Box jumps 
  • Leg press
  • Plyometrics: jump squats, jump lunges, star jumps, jumping jacks
  • Jump rope
  • Single and double leg heel raises and drops
  • Farmer’s walk on tip toes 
  • Single and double leg point and flex with a resistance band
  • Seated heel raises 

Let’s take a look at a couple of these exercises in more detail: 

Achilles Tendon / Calf Strengthening Exercises

#1: Standing Heel Raises 

Achilles Stretches For Runners: Standing heel raise.
  1. Begin by standing tall with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Push yourself up on your tip toes, lifting your heels off the ground.
  3. Return your heels to the ground.
  4. Repeat for the desired amount of time or reps. 

Note: You can add dumbbells to this exercise to increase difficulty or perform this exercise on a stair or box to be able to lower heels even further. 

#2: Seated Heel Raises 

Achilles Stretches For Runners: Seated heel raise.
  1. Begin by sitting on the edge of a chair or plyo box with your feet flat on the floor about shoulder-width apart. 
  2. While seated, lift your heels off the ground as high as possible. 
  3. Pause for two seconds, holding them in that active position. 
  4. With control, lower your heels back down to your starting position. 
  5. Repeat for the desired amount of time or reps. 

Before working out, it is imperative to warm up sufficiently to lower the risk of any type of running injury. There are several dynamic stretches that you can add to your pre-workout routine to warm up your calves and Achilles before you get going. 

Achilles Stretches For Runners: Dynamic

#3: Heel Rocks 

Achilles Stretches For Runners: Heel Rocks.
  1. Begin by standing tall with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Push yourself onto your tiptoes, come back down into your starting position, and rock back onto your heels. 
  3. Continue these movements fluidly for the desired amount of time. 

 #4: Toe Walks 

Achilles Stretches For Runners: Toe Walks.
  1. Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. 
  2. Push yourself up on your tiptoes, stretching your calf muscles.
  3. Walk forward on the balls of your feet.
  4. Repeat for 30 seconds

#5: Heel Walks 

Achilles Stretches For Runners: Heel walks.
  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. 
  • While keeping your balance, lean back onto your heels. 
  • Walk forward, staying on your heels. 
  • Repeat for 30 seconds. 

Note: You can also alternate toe and heel walks by taking two steps on your tip toes, two steps on your heels, and so on.

Remember, dynamic stretching is stretching in movement that is performed before your workouts to warm up properly.

We will now look at tips for static stretching or stretching that you hold for a prolonged period of time. This type of stretching takes place after your runs and workouts. 

Tips For Static Stretching 

  • Hold each stretch between 45 – and 60 seconds to reap optimal benefits. 
  • Try to relax your muscles while holding the stretch.
  • Breath deeply while you stretch. With each exhale, you can try to gently stretch the muscle a tad more. 
  • Stretch your muscles gently. You should feel mild tension but not pain. If you feel pain, let up on the stretch or stop altogether. 

Now that we know how to stretch correctly let’s look at the following Achilles stretches for runners that you can add to your post-run routine.

Achilles Stretches For Runners: Static

#6: Double-Leg Seated Calf Stretch with Resistance Band 

Achilles Stretches For Runners: Double-Leg Seated Calf Stretch with Resistance Band
  1. Sit tall on the floor and extend your legs out in front of you. 
  2. Place a resistance band around the balls of both feet, holding each end of the band in either hand.
  3. With your elbow at 90-degrees, pull the sides of the bands back toward you, flexing your feet to feel the calf stretch.
  4. Hold the position for 45-60 seconds. 

#7: Single-Leg Seated Calf Stretch with Resistance Band 

Achilles Stretches For Runners: Single-Leg Seated Calf Stretch with Resistance Band
  1. Sit tall on the floor and extend your legs out in front of you. 
  2. Place a resistance band around the ball of your right foot, holding each end of the band in either hand.
  3. With your elbow at 90-degrees, pull the sides of the bands back toward you, flexing your right foot to feel the calf stretch.
  4. Hold the position for 45-60 seconds. 
  5. Repeat on the other foot.

#8: Toe To Wall Stretch 

Achilles Stretches For Runners: Toe to wall stretch

Find a wall, short curb, or step to perform this Achilles stretch for runners.

  1. Stand tall. 
  2. Place your right foot at a 45-degree angle against the curb, leaving your left foot slightly behind you to keep your balance. 
  3. Gently flex your knee forward. 
  4. You can come closer to the curb or hinge your body forward to deepen the stretch. 
  5. Hold the position for 45-60 seconds.
  6. Repeat on the other leg. 

#9 Single-Leg Heel Drop Stretch 

Achilles Stretches For Runners: single-leg heel drop stretch
  1. Stand on a step, curb, or plyometric box. 
  2. Place your right foot, so the ball of your right foot is on the edge of the step, and your right heel is hanging off the back. You can leave your left foot resting on the step. 
  3. Let your right heel drop toward the ground.
  4. Hold the position for 45-60 seconds.
  5. Repeat on the other leg.

Note: You can also perform this stretch by letting both heels drop toward the floor simultaneously, making it a double-leg heel drop stretch. 

Achilles Stretches For Runners: Double leg heel drop stretch

#10: Achilles Stretch

Achilles Stretches For Runners: Achilles stretch.
  1. Stand tall with your feet at hip-width apart. 
  2. Take a step forward with your right foot with your knee slightly bent. 
  3. Lean forward slightly, keeping your back straight.
  4. Bend your left leg slightly and press your left heel into the ground for a calf stretch.
  5. Hold the position for 45-60 seconds. 
  6. Repeat on the other leg. 

There it is, strengthening exercises, dynamic stretches for warming up, and Achilles stretches for runners for after your workout. The full package! 

Remember, it’s vital to stretch all muscles used after any type of workout. If you are looking for other stretches to add to your stretching routine, take a look at our other guides: 

Quad Stretches For Runners

Hamstring Stretches For Runners

Glute Stretches For Runners

IT Band Stretches For Runners

Calf Stretches For Runner 

Katelyn Tocci
Katelyn is an experienced ultra-marathoner and outdoor enthusiast with a passion for the trails. In the running community she is known for her ear to ear smile even under the toughest race conditions. She loves sharing her knowledge and experience with everyone and has a great desire to motivate others to hit the trails alongside her. Run for fun!

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