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Achilles warm-up before running

Updated: May 10

This article explains how to warm up before going running when your Achilles tendon is injured. It discusses the difference between a dynamic warm-up and Achilles stretches before running and cautions when it is better not to warm up and run with an injured Achilles. Remember, if you need help with an Achilles injury, you're welcome to consult one of our team via video call.

How to warm-up your Achilles before running.

The terms tendinitis, tendonitis, tendinosis, and tendinopathy mean the same thing for all practical purposes, and we use these interchangeably in most of our articles.

In this article:

We've also made a video about this:

Why warm up at all?


There are five main reasons why you should warm up before going for a run, whether your Achilles tendon is injured or not.

  1. Raising your body temperature and heart rate: When your muscles and your tendons and soft tissues are warm, they are generally more flexible and less likely to get injured.

  2. Activating your muscles: You want to activate the muscles that you're going to be using in your activity. So, for running, that's mostly your leg muscles, so that they are ready to do the activity that you are about to do.

  3. Mobilising your joints: You want to mobilise your joints through the range of movement they're going to need to be doing so that, as is the case with your muscles, they're not going to be overstretched suddenly.

  4. Mental preparation: Everyone will have a favourite routine to do. Going through this routine, especially before a race, can help to calm your nerves so you can mentally prepare for the activity that you're doing.

  5. Race performance: If the warm-up is for a race, you might want to do some faster, harder efforts than you would do for a training run to get those muscles really firing, which will hopefully help you perform better.

How to warm up with an Achilles injury


The obvious pre-run warm-up to raise your heart rate and get the blood flowing is to do some easy jogging or running on the spot.

Squats are a good alternative to slow jogging to warm up your leg muscles and joints.
Squats are a good alternative to slow jogging to warm up your leg muscles and joints.

But it doesn't have to be that, especially if your Achilles tendon is complaining or if the weather is terrible – it can also be non-impact and inside. Some examples, all of which I demo in the video above, are:

  • Squats or splits squats to get your legs warm for running.

  • Your Achilles rehab calf-raise exercises – two birds with one stone! (But if they hurt, you shouldn’t be running to start with.)

  • Planks or side planks.

  • Core exercises – again two birds with one stone.

Achilles stretches before running?


Static stretches and long holds are better left for after your run or later in the day. There's some research to show that your performance is going to be better if you do more active and dynamic stretches in a warm-up rather than doing long holds.

And remember that doing strong or prolonged calf stretches with an injured Achilles tendon is usually not a good idea, especially with insertional Achilles tendonitis.

Passive stretches are best left for after a run.
Passive stretches are best left for after a run.

When not to warm up and go running with an Achilles injury

If your Achilles tendon hurts when you start running, and then it feels better as you carry on running but feels worse again the following morning, no warm-up routine is going to make it feel better. It is an indication that you’re overloading the tendon by running too far or too fast.

The aim of a warm-up isn't to make an existing injury that ought to rest go away.


In this case, it's better to consult a sports physio and deal with the problem properly, and then you can worry about warm-ups when you get back to running and it isn't hurting anymore.


How we can help

Need help with your Achilles injury? You’re welcome to consult one of the team at TMA online via video call for an assessment of your injury and a tailored treatment plan.

Meet the TMA physios

We're all UK Chartered Physiotherapists with Master’s Degrees related to Sports & Exercise Medicine or at least 10 years' experience in the field. All of us have a wealth of experience working with athletes across a broad variety of sports and ranging from recreationally active people to professional athletes. You can meet the team here.

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Steph Davies

About the Author

Steph Davies is a chartered physiotherapist with more than 15 years' experience and a Master’s Degree in Sports and Exercise Medicine. You can read more about her here, and she's also on LinkedIn.


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