The Achilles tendon – should you cool it or warm it?

A lot of people ask themselves ‘Does the Achilles tendon need cooling when it hurts or warming?’ It’s a good question, as if you do the wrong thing, the pain in the Achilles tendon may even become worse.

A simple rule:

  1. Cool the Achilles tendon if it is inflamed
  2. Warm the Achilles tendon if it is degenerated

How to recognize inflammation (and then cool the Achilles tendon)

Swelling and redness = normally in the case of inflammation

= bursitis (redness just above the heel bone)

= paratendinitis (this can be along the entire Achilles tendon)

= complete or partial tear

How to recognize degeneration (and then warm the Achilles tendon)

Thickening or chronic pain in the case of degeneration (over the course of several months)

= tendinopathy in the central area of the tendon (approx. 2 to 8 cm above the heel bone)

= tendinopathy at the base of the tendon (just above the heel bone)

1. Cooling the Achilles tendon properly: what you need to bear in mind.

Aim: to reduce swelling and pain and contain the inflammation

Rule of thumb: do not cool the area too much as otherwise the skin will be affected (reduced blood flow, cold spots). In this case, some feeling may be lost and there will be no true warning signal; furthermore, if the temperature is too low, when the source of cold is removed from the Achilles tendon, the reaction may be just the opposite: the body will increase blood flow and metabolism, which will increase the inflammatory factors.

So, do not cool to temperatures below 12°C.

Methods for cooling the Achilles tendon:

  • wrap an ice pack or ice cubes in a towel and place on the affected site
  • even better: wet a towel with cold water and lay it on the area effected
  • spread quark or mashed potato (out of the fridge!) on the tendon
  • evaporative cooling (moisture from the towel or quark or mashed potato) leads to deep cooling of the Achilles tendon and it is important that both are even
  • during cooling, move the foot a little to intensify the effect
  • cooling time approx. 20 min

Please note: do not cool the Achilles tendon in the case of

  • arterial circulation disorders
  • trophic tissue disorders (nutritional disorder, nerve disorder)
  • allergic to cold
  • sensibility disorders in the affected area

2. Warming the Achilles tendon properly: what you need to bear in mind.

Aim: to increase blood flow through the tendon, to improve the effect of training, to minimize the risk of injury at low temperatures.


  • massage along the Achilles tendon with a brush or electric toothbrush
  • wear long socks that cover the whole Achilles tendon
  • wear FALKE Achilles socks, which massage the tendon with their integrated silicone pyramids and boost blood flow