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Why is there a popping feeling in my Achilles tendon?

Updated: Feb 7

“Why is there a popping, clicking, or creaking feeling in my Achilles tendon?” is one of the questions we are often asked. The medical name for it is crepitus, and in this article, we’ll explain what this is, what it means, and how you can get rid of it. Remember, if you need more help with an Achilles injury, you're welcome to consult one of our team via video call.

What causes a popping or creaking Achilles tendon?

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

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What that popping feeling in the Achilles tendon is

Our patients typically describe this as a popping or clicking or rough feeling when they move. The type of movement that causes this is when they have to raise themselves up on their toes and back down again, such as when they’re running, walking, or climbing stairs.

This sensation of popping and clicking is known as crepitus. It can happen anywhere in your body where there are tendons.

The top of the Achilles tendon is attached to the bottom of the calf muscles; it then runs down the back of your leg and attaches to your heel bone. The tendon is encased in a sheath. When you move your foot up or down, the tendon slides within the sheath, very much like a piece of string being pulled backwards and forwards through a straw.

If the tendon is irritated, that movement in the sheath is not quite as smooth as it is supposed to be, and this is what causes that weird popping or creaking sensations.

Should I be worried about crepitus in my Achilles tendon?

Crepitus can be a sign that you have an Achilles tendinopathy or irritation of the tendon sheath. However, the crepitus as such – that popping or creaking sensation – is not causing any damage. It is just a sign that the tendon or its sheath is injured and not very happy with life at the moment, even if you do not feel any pain.

However, if you delay treating the injury, it may over time become (more) painful, and your recovery will probably take much longer than if you were to seek help immediately.

How to get rid of the popping, creaking, or clicking in your Achilles tendon

In our experience, a combination of relative rest and an individualised programme to gradually strengthen your Achilles tendon is the best treatment for a tendinopathy.

As our patients progress with their strength training programme, their tendons get more robust and better able to cope with the demands of daily living and exercise, and the popping and creaking sensations duly decrease and eventually disappear.

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.

Meet the TMA physios

We're all UK Chartered Physiotherapists with Master’s Degrees related to Sports & Exercise Medicine. But at Treat My Achilles 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.

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About the Author

Alison Gould is a chartered physiotherapist and holds an MSc in Sports and Exercise Medicine. You can follow her on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


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