How To Massage Achilles Tendonitis & Does It Even Help?

Massage can feel about as great or terrible as you want — think gentle, relaxing spa vibes vs. deep-tissue torture chamber ambiance… big difference there.

Both extremes have their pros and cons, but can any massage defeat that nagging force pledged to make you suffer named “Achilles Tendonitis?”


Massage can definitely help with your Achille tendonitis, but that will depend on the type of massage and the extent of your injury.

Don’t worry, I won’t leave you hanging to try and figure out whether repeatedly slamming your fist into your calf or gently gliding your fingers back and forth along your Achilles tendon is the best way here.

Let me show you exactly how massage can help by doing it the RIGHT way, and even give you some options if you’d rather not get any actual hands on you or you want to do things yourself!

Does Massage Help With Achilles Tendonitis?

In short: yes, it can — in several ways. 

There’s a good reason why a ton of people will give up their hard-earned cash to have someone seemingly re-arrange their body — it often helps and it feels GREAT.

And you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone that HATED their massage experience, no matter what the reason for their massage was. 

To be fair, I’ve had one such experience…it involved some sounds I’m not proud of, maybe a couple of tears, and a declined credit card.

But let’s not talk about that.

Massage can help with Achilles tendonitis in more ways than just an enjoyable experience: 

  • Improve Range Of Motion — Achilles tendonitis will usually stiffen up your ankle by tightening your calf and foot muscles. Massaging will help loosen things up and get that ankle moving like it should.1  
  • Decreased Pain — Massage can help you save a couple of tears by lowering your pain levels.2
  • Lower Swelling — Who wants to have a fatter foot? Nobody, that’s who. Massaging can help push that swelling out and get your foot looking normal again. 
  • Better Performance — It’s hard to do anything well if you’re limping around. Calming the Achilles tendon down with some proper massage techniques can let you get back to crushing your sport sooner. 

The amount of help you get out of massaging for Achilles tendonitis will also depend on some other things like avoiding certain exercises — you can’t throw both water and fuel on the fire…the fuel usually wins in my experience (I think back to those eyebrow-less days often…*shudder*).

How To Massage Achilles Tendon

Now time for the fun part.

The awesome thing about massaging is that we have a lot of options — if one technique doesn’t work, let’s give the next one a shot.

Try out the lighter techniques first when doing any foot massage for Achilles tendonitis, since you’ll quickly be able to tell if it makes things feel better or if you’re already poking the bear too much.

Location is important too: sometimes you’ll want to work a bit closer to your foot if that’s where you’re getting the most relief or feel the most pain, other times you’ll work more in your calf or right on the tendon.

You also don’t want to spend too much or too little time doing your calf massage for Achilles tendonitis — on the one hand we have the attention span of goldfishes (I blame TikTok and Minute Rice), and on the other hand we tend to go overboard on things that feel good (sweet, sweet dopamine). 

There’s usually a sweet spot from in between 5 to 15 minutes for our purposes here, and that can be done up to 3 times a day if you have the time and tolerance. 

Let’s jump into the techniques!

Deep Tissue Massage For Achilles Tendonitis

If you crave that “good pain,” deep tissue massage is for you.

This technique can be pretty aggressive — it’s not your wow-massage-is-so-relaxing type, but more of a get-my-will-ready-because-I’m-not-leaving-this-appointment-alive type. 

That being said, it does a great job of relaxing the muscles and decreasing overall pain AFTER the massage is done.

Our target here is the calf muscle, NOT working directly on the Achilles tendon. 

Using DEEP, slow, and firm strokes with your palms and fingers, you’ll connect with the DEEP fibres of your muscles (I love a name that matches the technique).

This will help work out knots, improve blood circulation, relax your muscles, lower pain, and get rid of stiffness — which all works to ease the tension on your Achilles tendon.3

Consider using lotion to help things glide smoothly — or say goodbye to your leg hair!

Start with 5 to 10 minutes of working from the lower calf up towards the knee, starting with lighter strokes and slowly easing into deeper, firmer strokes.

It’s a little tricky to do yourself considering where your calf is, but if you can pretzel yourself to reach it then it can definitely be done on your own. 

Don’t worry if you get some bruising or are a little sore during or afterwards — we’re not expecting this to be comfortable, and soreness after beating a muscle up is normal.

Pressure & Trigger Point Massage For Achilles Tendonitis

This is similar to deep tissue massage, except we switch out strokes for “holds” at painful points in our muscles.4

Sounds fun, right?

It can be as uncomfortable as deep tissue massage, but we often also get instant relief after treatment (and who doesn’t love instant gratification). 

You want to avoid the tendon again, and focus on the calf muscles.

Dig around until you find a knot or a tender/tight spot, and then SLOWLY apply pressure using your thumbs or knuckles.

Hold for about a minute. You should start to feel that marble under your skin start to relax and the pain to lighten up. 

If it doesn’t, STOP after a minute of holding and move on to a different point — you can come back to this spot, but give it a couple of minutes before attacking it again. 

I like to push down on a knotted-up spot gradually until I get to a 7/10 pain, hold it there for 60 seconds, and let it come down (ideally) to a 3-4/10.

Pincer Grip Massage (Friction Massage) For Achilles Tendonitis

Finally, a lighter technique.

The Pincer grip massage is focused on the Achilles tendon, so you can finally give your poor calf a well-deserved rest after those last two techniques.

Your goal here is to slingshot the body’s healing process forwards by creating a little disruption in the tendon.

Find a tender spot on your tendon, and grab both sides of it with your pointer finger and thumb.

Gently push back and forth on it at a right angle — kind of like plucking a gigantic guitar string.

Get a little firmer on it as the pain eases off, but don’t push past an uncomfortable level into pain. 

Transverse Friction Massage For Achilles Tendonitis

This is pretty close to the Pincer grip massage, but take your pointer finger and middle finger or thumb and put them ON TOP of the tendon instead.

From here, gently rub back and forth across the tendon side-to-side.

Stay at one spot for about 2 minutes, then move on.

Foam Rolling For Achilles Tendonitis

I like this one because it’s like combining deep tissue and pressure massage (A+ for efficiency).

Get yourself a foam roller and toss it under your calf while sitting on the ground.

Start rolling back and forth, keeping the tension on the muscles and not going down to the Achilles tendon. 

Stay at any tender spots you find for 60 seconds — this’ll rush some blood into that specific area and release it better.5

Tennis/Lacrosse Ball Massage For Achilles Tendonitis

Same thing as the foam roller here, but it’s easier to hit more specific spots in the calf — it’s like a sniper for knots in the calf whereas the foam roller is more like a shotgun. 

Ice Massage For Achilles Tendonitis

This is a good one for pain relief.

Grab a frozen water bottle or cold massage ball and slowly roll it up and down your calf and Achilles tendon.

Be nice and gentle with this one, we don’t need to dig deep here.

Using A Massage Gun For Achilles Tendonitis

The calf and foot are hard-to-reach areas when we want to massage ourselves, which means that the extra reach from a massage gun could be a good investment. 

The truth is, it’s hard to say if there truly is a best massage gun for Achilles tendonitis — it’s more about the settings you use and HOW you use it. 

A massage gun can help reduce pain and increase range of motion similar to the techniques we just talked about, but keep in mind that it can bug your tendon depending on where you’re at in your injury and where you’re aiming that thing.6

Consider these things when using a massage gun for Achilles tendonitis:

  • Attachments — Having smaller or bigger attachments will help you target smaller or bigger areas (simple math). A choice between the two will help work the bigger calf muscles and smaller foot muscles more easily.
  • Power — Being able to choose how intense and fast your gun goes is a massive help, especially when trying to mimic deep tissue massage or a lighter “feel good” massage.
  • Location — I don’t recommend using a massage gun directly on the Achilles tendon as this can irritate it. Stick to the feet and calf muscles.
  • Goals — Massage guns are great for improving range of motion and muscle relaxation, but they won’t work as well when it comes to specific tendon massage and creating a healing effect.

Make sure to check out our article on healing Achilles tendonitis if you’re GUNNING for the best results (I’ll see myself out).


Massaging for Achilles tendonitis can lower your pain, get rid of swelling, help you walk better, and speed up the recovery process.

There’s a bunch of different techniques out there using hands, massage guns, foam rollers, and more, giving you several options to try out until something sticks.

Focus on spending 5 to 15 minutes massaging your calf, foot, and Achilles tendon 1 to 3 times a day while listening to your body if it cries out begging you to stop — you want the massage to make things feel better afterwards, not the other way around. 

But remember: massage is not a be-all and end-all fix for Achilles tendonitis — it can be a darn good bandaid and HELP heal things, but respect it’s limitations. 

Achilles Tendonitis Massage FAQ

Here’s some questions I get about Achilles tendonitis massage in the clinic!

How often should you massage Achilles tendonitis?

Try massaging for 5 to 15 minutes, up to 3 times a day depending on what your tolerance is.

Does deep tissue massage help Achilles tendonitis?

Yes, deep tissue massage can help Achilles tendonitis by relaxing the muscles attaching to the tendon and surrounding it, while also improving blood flow.

Where do you massage for Achilles tendonitis?

You massage in your calf, foot, or on the Achilles tendon depending on what technique you’re using and what you can handle.

What are the benefits of massaging your Achilles tendon?

You stimulate the body’s healing process by doing friction massage on the Achilles tendon, which can also lower your pain. 

Eric Richter

Eric Richter

I'm Eric, a physiotherapist with a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology and a Master’s degree in Physiotherapy from the University Of Manitoba. I have enjoyed the better part of a decade working with both amateur and professional athletes as a physical therapist. I've also worked as a strength and conditioning coach at an MMA gym!

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