Tendonitis is inflammation in a tendon, which is the tissue that connects muscle to the bone. This condition causes pain or feelings of tenderness primarily around joints such as the knee, foot, elbow and shoulder.
As a result, many people have limited mobility that can last for a few days or longer.
Tendonitis typically results from the overexertion of the tendon during physical activities like throwing a baseball, gardening or repetitive activities such as painting. It can be a tricky thing to get rid of, so once you know that you have it, it’s important that you take the proper steps to treat it. If you continue to place strain on the tendon, it could rupture and require surgical repair. Fortunately, most cases of tendonitis can be treated with rest, physical therapy and medication. In fact, you can slowly return to being physically active and keep your symptoms at bay with light, regular exercise.
Easing Your Way into Exercise
In the early days of the injury, it’s important to follow the RICE regimen: rest, ice, compression and elevation. A few days is all that is needed of this regimen, otherwise the joints can get too stiff. Rest the area for several days, and then begin gently moving the injured area to maintain joint flexibility and range of motion. You may also want to get the all-clear from your doctor before you start exercising again.
The goal of regular exercise is to continuously increase mobility and range of motion in the affected area. Even though you may be in pain, if you avoid activity for too long, the tendons will become weak and may tear. The key is to ease into a light exercise routine. You should not push yourself or work through pain. Pushing yourself too hard can cause further damage and prevent proper healing. Also, don’t jump right back to the activities that caused the tendonitis in the first place. Choose alternative stretches and exercises instead.
Tips for Exercising with Tendonitis
Below are a few tips to keep tendonitis in check with healthy, regular exercise.
- Always stretch. It’s important that you warm up the muscles and improve your range of motion to decrease the chance of trauma due to tight tissues. Stretching is equally important both before and after a workout.
- Be aware. If you notice pain during a particular exercise, stop doing it. There are plenty of others that you can do, and you shouldn’t feel pain when doing them.
- Ease up. Avoid strenuous activities that place excessive strain on your tendons, especially for long periods of time.
- Switch it up. You shouldn’t do the same workout routine each day since this can place too much strain on the same muscles. Focus on mixing up your routine with impact-loading and lower impact activities.
- Watch your technique. It’s possible that you may not be using the right technique for all your stretches or lifts. Brush up on your technique by watching videos or working with a trainer/partner. Consider taking lessons if you want to try a new sport or use a new piece of workout equipment.
- Strengthen muscles. Anything you can do to strengthen your muscles is like an insurance policy against injury. Stronger muscles are less prone to stress and injury.
- Massage after working out. If you have sore areas after working out, rest or massage them to decrease pain and discomfort. You may also ice sore areas, and in some cases, applying heat can be beneficial, too.
As you ease back into your routine, you’ll find that regular exercise can actually improve tendonitis symptoms, but you must be certain that you don’t place excess strain on the tendons or engage in repetitive movements. Some of the best activities to start with are very light weights as well as low-impact activities like swimming.
Tendonitis is a painful condition, but it can be successfully managed with light physical activity, alternative therapies, OTC medications and rest when needed. Listening to your body is most important in managing this condition.