Updated: Dec 20, 2021
Yes, you may be able to walk with a torn Achilles tendon, but this doesn't mean you should. In this article we'll discuss how a partially as well as fully torn Achilles tendon will affect your walking and also when you may be ready to start walking again. Remember, if you need more help with an Achilles injury, you're welcome to consult one of our team via video call.
We also made a video about this:
Can you walk with a partially torn Achilles tendon?
Yes, you usually can. What you feel when you walk with a partially torn Achilles tendon depends on how much of the tendon is torn and how long ago you've torn it.
If it's a significant portion, then it may be quite painful to put your heel on the floor, and you may struggle to push off with the front of your foot.
If it's only a small tear or if the tear is more in the middle of the tendon, then it may only cause a mild ache when you walk, or it may even be pain free unless you try and walk fast.
The pain you feel while walking may also disappear within a few days for a minor tear or within weeks for a more significant one. You may even be able to walk without effort despite it not being fully healed. You can read more about how to know whether you've partially torn your Achilles here.
Can you still walk with a fully torn or ruptured Achilles tendon?
Not really. You'll be able to move forward but it won't be normal walking. You will very likely be walking with a flat foot.
The Achilles tendon attaches your calf muscles (which propel you forward when you walk) to your heel bone.
If the tendon is fully torn or ruptured, then you lose the ability to lift up on your toes and your calf muscles can no longer push you forward, hence the flat foot walking pattern. We've discussed how to diagnose a full Achilles rupture here.
When is it OK to walk with a torn Achilles tendon?
It's usually best to discuss this with the physio who is in charge of your rehab. Partially torn Achilles tendons actually improve relatively quickly, and you'll likely be instructed to gradually build up your walking from about four to six weeks after the initial injury. We've discussed the treatment of partial Achilles tears in detail here.
If you've fully torn your tendon, walking will not be an option for quite some time. You'll likely find yourself stuck in a boot for about six to eight weeks, and you'll only be allowed to put weight on your foot when it's in the boot. This is to allow the tendon's ends to grow back together. You can find more information about the treatment of a ruptured Achilles here.
How we can help
Need more 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.
We're all UK Chartered Physiotherapists with Master’s Degrees related to Sports & Exercise Medicine. But at Sports Injury Physio we don't just value qualifications; all of us also have a wealth of experience working with athletes across a broad variety of sports, ranging from recreationally active people to professional athletes. You can meet the team here.
About the Author
Brukner & Khan et al. (2016) CLINICAL SPORTS MEDICINE: INJURIES, VOL. 1