Too much stress on the joints, especially the shoulder, elbow and knee, can tear and inflame tendons and cause tendonitis. There are many ways to treat tendonitis but at Westchester Health, we think the best course of action is to try and prevent it from developing in the first place. Eric Small, MD, Pediatric and Adult Sports Medicine specialist with our Westchester Health Orthopedics and Sports Medicine group and Medical Director of Orthopedics and Sports Medicine with Westchester Health, has recently written a blog focusing on the best ways to avoid the inflammation and pain of this common condition.
The 3 most common causes of tendonitis
1. Repetitive strain on the tendon
This occurs when the same motion is performed over and over again, often with force added. Athletes, musicians and people who work on assembly lines or perform other work-related motions repeatedly are susceptible to tendonitis, as well as weekend warriors who overdo it.
2. Stressing the tendon
Lifting a heavy load or repeatedly putting the tendon under strain can easily cause tendonitis. This is common among bodybuilders, especially if they fail to warm up properly or use incorrect form and training techniques.
3. Being a “Boomer “
Tendons gradually lose their elasticity as people age, making baby boomers more prone to tendonitis. Anyone over 40 is more susceptible to stress and tearing as the tendons start to become less pliable.
6 important things you can do to avoid developing tendonitis
Preventing tendonitis is much easier then treating it. If you apply these suggestions not only to your exercise and sports activities but to your work routines as well, you can hopefully avoid tendonitis and its complications.
- Take it slow. Gradually build up your activity level and ease into sports, exercise and weight lifting, especially if you’ve been less active for some time. Build up your strength and endurance slowly, not all at once.
- Warm up. Always warm up before an activity, particularly a strenuous one. Take a minimum of 5 minutes to lightly exercise the arms, legs and torso. Lift light weights before attempting heavy lifting. Putting stress on the tendons and joints without warming up first will aggravate the tendons and quickly lead to tendonitis.
- Limit repetitions and forceful motions. Playing an intense game of tennis for 2 hours, for instance, without being conditioned for it can lead to tennis elbow. Similarly, using a hand tool on an assembly line for 8 hours a day every day can overtax the tendons in your hand and wrist. If possible, avoid tasks that require continuous, repetitive movements.
- Strengthen tendons and balance muscles. Light resistance and weight training to improve your muscle and tendon strength is highly recommended. Often one muscle group may be stronger than others, which can add stress to the joints and opposing muscles. Work with a knowledgeable trainer to set up a series of exercises for each muscle group.
- Don’t ignore pain. This is maybe the most important guideline. Respect your body’s warning system and pay attention to pain. When you feel pain in your tendons or joints, this could be a sign that they’re under too much strain or pressure. Give it a rest or stop the exercise or activity altogether. Key takeaway: do not push through pain.
- Modify the joint position or exercise. Avoiding or modifying an activity that causes tendon and joint pain is a smart way to avoid developing tendonitis. Soft joint supports that provide mild compression and keep the joint warm can also be helpful.
To read Dr. Small’s blog in full, click here.