Tendonitis can be downright painful. When you get a tear in your tendon, it can take you out of the game for days or even weeks. This can be extremely frustrating for workout warriors, as you may miss out on your next CrossFit workouts and feel like your progress has been wasted.
Let’s go over tendonitis and everything you need to know to prevent it. By understanding tendonitis better, you’ll be able to make headway with your fitness program, while ensuring that you don’t get injured when increasing intensity.
Tendonitis is a condition that affects your tendons. Your tendons are strong, cord-like tissues that connect your muscle to your bone. When you have tendonitis, your tendon becomes inflamed due to stress or a tear. This can be painful because tendons are involved in a movement. Tendonitis typically affects the area of the tear, causing swelling and tenderness, as well as limited motion.
Where does tendonitis commonly develop?
Tendonitis can develop in any tendons in the body. However, it most commonly occurs in the elbow, shoulder, knee, hip, ankle, and thumb. Depending on the site of tendonitis, the condition may have a distinct name. For example:
- Tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow
- Pitcher’s shoulder or swimmer’s shoulder
- Jumper’s knee
- Achilles tendinitis
- De Quervain’s disease
As you may have noticed, many of these common names are related to sports. The reason is because sports are a major factor in causing tendonitis. If you play any of these sports as part of your fitness program, it’s important to try our prevention strategies below.
What causes tendonitis?
Tendonitis is caused by stress or a tear in the tendon. This can happen due to overuse of certain tendons, especially when the physical activity involves repeated use of this body part. For example, playing certain sports can increase your risk of tendonitis. In particular, tennis, golf, skiing, and baseball are known to cause tendonitis. Other activities that may tear your tendon include:
- Jobs that involve repetitive motion and/or vibration
- Household chores
- Yard work (including gardening, raking, shoveling)
- Lack of warm-up and cool-down stretches
- Bad posture
You might also be predisposed to getting tendonitis if you have arthritis, diabetes, a joint condition or an infection.
What are the symptoms of tendonitis?
You’ll know if you have tendonitis because you’ll feel pain in your tendon and have trouble moving the affected area. You might also feel swelling and tenderness, as well as a lump or a grating feeling.
If you’re not sure it’s tendonitis, it’s a good idea to consult a doctor. Also, if you have a fever or are unable to move the affected area at all, see a doctor to rule out other conditions.
How is tendonitis treated?
Often, you can self-treat tendonitis at home. To heal, your tendon needs rest. Generally speaking, you should follow the R.I.C.E. guidelines for treating tendonitis:
- Rest: Let the affected tendon heal. Limit use and don’t do the activity that caused the injury.
- Ice: Apply ice to the injured area for up to 20 minutes at a time. This will help reduce swelling.
- Compression: Wrap the affected area in bandages for support.
- Elevation: Try to raise the affected area by placing it on a pillow or higher surface.
By following these steps, you should see improvement within 2-3 days. According to the National Health Service, you can also try these steps to reduce pain and swelling:
- Muscle scraping: Muscle scraping is a way to promote blood circulation in the tendonitis area. Basically, you can use an instrument to massage the area, stretch the muscles and speed up injury recovery. This technique is especially useful for tendonitis in the shoulder. You can do this on your own by purchasing a muscle scraper and applying it to the injury area. A muscle scraper can be a lifesaver to relieve pain quickly at home.
- Hot and cold therapy: Hot and cold therapy involves using a cold compress to reduce swelling and then switching to a hot compress to promote blood flow. You can make a compress out of a towel, or using an ice pack. Never apply ice directly to the skin – always use a towel or cloth. In addition, you may also get pain relief from taking a hot bath.
- Physical or massage therapy: Physical therapy or massage therapy might also be a good idea. Contact a physical therapist or chiropractor expert near you to get a customized care plan for your tendonitis. This may involve exercises, stretches, supplements, and diet. In general, a therapist will try to recover the range of motion, while reducing pain.
How can I prevent tendonitis?
You can prevent tendonitis in several different ways. In general, if you use repetitive motions at work or during a sport, you should make sure you’re not over-exercising the area. Specifically, you can follow these best practices when it comes to tendonitis prevention:
- Don’t overdo it. Pushing yourself too hard at the gym or while playing a sport can take a toll on your body. Make sure to build your activity level slowly but surely so that your body has time to become strong. If you follow CrossFit, make sure you talk to a trainer about the right time to increase intensity levels. Too much too soon could make you more likely to get tendonitis.
- Listen to your body. If an activity is causing you pain, stop immediately. Listen to your body’s needs. Physical activity shouldn’t ever be painful. You should also take lots of breaks if you’re doing a repetitive physical activity.
- Do warm-up and cool-down exercises. Take care of your body by always warming up your muscles before a workout. This is really important to get your muscles prepared for the intensity of your physical activity. Without a warm-up, you can more easily tear muscles and tendons.
- Wear the right gear. Be sure your shoes are comfortable and appropriate for the exercise you’ll be doing. Also, check that your equipment is safe and updated. Sharp movements due to improper gear can cause tendonitis.
- Diversify your workouts. You shouldn’t be doing the same exercise all the time. By mixing it up, you can be sure to use a range of muscle groups and build flexibility and strength in more than one area. Try cross-training to get the kind of diverse exercise your body needs. The CrossFit program is a good way to get exercise that is constantly varied.
- Take classes from a pro. If you’re starting a new sport, take classes. You need to learn the correct form in order to do the exercise properly. Bad technique can cause you to use muscles you aren’t supposed or strain them more easily.
- Make your workstation comfortable. The way you sit at the office all day can affect your muscle tension. Be sure your desk is the right height and your screen at eye level. Your chair should also be comfortable, so you can sit all the way back in it. Make any necessary adjustments – and take breaks during your workday!
By following these guidelines, you can get a stronger, healthier body and also avoid straining your tendons in the future. We hope you recover quickly and get back in the game!
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