Keeping your tendons healthy and preventing tendinopathy

Tendinopathy refers to damage to a muscle tendon, the most common of which affects the elbow (tennis elbow) and the Achilles tendon. Tendinopathy can be caused by sports or work-related activities that involve repetitive overuse or sudden trauma (tendinitis) or degeneration and tearing of the tendon (tendinosis)…

Tendinopathy refers to damage to a muscle tendon. The most common varieties of tendon damage are with respect to the elbow, as in tennis elbow, and the Achilles tendon.

Tendinopathy can be caused by sports or work-related activities that involve:

  • repetitive overuse, or
  • sudden trauma (tendinitis), or
  • degeneration and tearing of the tendon (tendinosis).

When it occurs, tendinopathy can be disabling and disheartening. Pain is a guiding factor for determining the severity.

By listening to your physiotherapist and your body and by following the “Physio-4” for tendinopathy, you can help to prevent tendinopathy from occurring or re-occurring and keep moving for life.

Tip #1: Warm up to prevent tendon injury

Physiotherapist instructing patient to warm up on treadmill.

Warming up on a low impact device.

Warm up to prevent tendon injury. Our tissues can break down and become painful when there are forces loading them that they cannot adapt to. For example, starting a training program too fast and without adequate rest can put undue strain on ligaments, tendons, and muscles in your shoulders, Achilles and elbow. Ask us about adding a gentle warm up to prevent injury.

Tip #2: Assess and treat previous injuries

Physiotherapist assessing impact of previous injury of a patient on a stationary cycle.

Assessing impact of previous injuries.

Impact of previous injuries. Old injuries that were not properly treated can create altered alignment and motor control that impacts other areas of the body. See one of our practitioners for a whole body assessment to learn how to integrate all the areas of your body and restore optimal function.

Tip #3: For tennis elbow, stretch the forearm

Physiotherapist showing patient how to gently stretch forearm.

Physiotherapist recommends an exercise that gently stretch the forearm muscles to patient.

If you are suffering from tennis elbow, avoid lifting anything in a “palm down” position. Wear a wrist or forearm brace to decrease stress on tendons attaching at the elbow. We can recommend exercises that gently stretch the forearm muscles. Once your pain has settled, we will provide a comprehensive exercise program to stimulate the tendons to repair and reduce the risk of recurrence.

Tip #4: Achilles pain may be caused by undue stress on the tissue

Physiotherapist assessing a patient for achilles pain

Practitioner assesses the achilles.

Achilles pain may be caused by undue stress on the tissue. This can be caused by poor alignment of the foot, leg or pelvis; walking or sporting technique; footwear or training errors e.g. too much too soon. We will assess your individual biomechanics, prescribe exercises to accelerate tendon healing, and provide advice on how to optimize and gradually increase the load through the tendon.

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Posted by Arbutus Health Team

The Arbutus Physiotherapy & Health Centre is a health and wellness clinic that provides physiotherapy, massage therapy and chiropractic care. We provide assessments and treatments to people with acute injury, chronic pain, and sports related injuries. We can help you recover and return to an active, healthy lifestyle, and peak performance.

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