Tendons are tissues that connect your muscles to your bones. They help your body move by pulling on your bones when muscles contract. The main tendons that run through the foot and ankle are the Achilles, anterior tibial, posterior tibial, flexor, extensor and peroneal tibial. When a tendon is stretched or pulled too far – due to falls, sports injuries or wrong movements, for example – it can become injured. Symptoms include pain, swelling and stiffness. It is important to heal a stretched tendon correctly in order to prevent further damage.
Rest your stretched tendon and foot to prevent the stretch from turning into a tear. Depending on the severity of the injury, you may not be advised to put any weight onto that particular foot for one to three weeks.
Apply ice to the stretched tendon if there is swelling. Apply ice in 15-minute increments, once or twice an hour, depending on how much inflammation and pain is felt. Reusable ice packs are convenient to prevent cold water from dripping all over your leg, foot and furniture. However, homemade ice packs, using ice cubes and a plastic bag will work as well.
Elevate your foot, preferably above your heart, in order to help the swelling go down. Lie on a bed or sofa and prop your foot up on either the back of a sofa or a pile of pillows, and simply let it rest.
Walk on your foot when either the pain and swelling subsides or your doctor gives you the go ahead. Do not try to push the recovery by walking on it too soon to avoid re-injuring the tendon. Return to exercise only with your doctors permission.
Visit a doctor to make sure that your tendon injury is just stretched and not torn. A torn tendon may require surgery in order for it to heal properly. Your doctor may take an ultrasound or MRI to determine the exact location and severity of the injury. To avoid making the situation worse, it’s best to diagnose the injury and receive treatment as soon as possible.