top of page

The load borne by the Achilles tendon during exercise: a systematic review of normative values

The Achilles tendon (AT) can be exposed to considerable stress during athletic activities and is often subject to pathologies such as tendinopathies. When designing a prevention or rehabilitation protocol, mechanical loading is a key factor to consider. This implies being able to accurately determine the load applied to the AT when performing exercises that stress this tendon.

A systematic review was performed to synthesize the load borne by the AT during exercises/activities. Three databases (Pubmed, Embase and Cochrane) were searched for articles up to May 2021, and only the studies assessing the AT load in newtons relative to body-weight (BW) on humans during activities or exercises were included. Most of the 11 included studies assessed AT load when running or walking (N = 10), and only three tested exercises were usually performed during rehabilitation. The load on the tendon ranged from 2.7 to 3.95 BW when walking, from 4.15 to 7.71 BW when running, and from 0.41 to 7.3 BW according to the strengthening exercise performed.

From the collected data, a progression of exercises progressively loading the Achilles tendon, as well as the possible connections with walking and running activities, could be defined. However, the trends highlighted in the relationship between tendon loading and walking or running speeds present some inconsistencies. Further research is still needed to clarify them, but also to complete the data set in healthy and injured people.

Demangeot Y, Whiteley R, Gremeaux V, Degache F. The load borne by the Achilles tendon during exercise: A systematic review of normative values. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2023 Feb;33(2):110-126. doi: 10.1111/sms.14242. Epub 2022 Nov 9. PMID: 36278501.

bottom of page