Tendonitis can be an incredibly debilitating injury, especially when there’s severe damage. While it can happen to anyone at any age, it’s more common in athletes who regularly participate in sports or “weekend warriors” who only exercise on the weekends. This guide will give you an overview of what tendonitis is and easy ways you can prevent it during exercise.
What is Tendonitis?
Tendons are fibrous tissue that connects muscle to bone. The suffix “-itis” means “inflammation”, so tendonitis refers to the inflammation of a tendon. When they become inflamed, they swell and sometimes develop tiny tears in the fibres. The body responds by sending white blood cells to the area, causing more inflammation and pain which may require medical treatment from an orthopaedic doctor in Singapore.
Tendonitis can occur in any tendon of the body but more commonly affects the elbows, wrists, knees, shoulders, biceps and heels (Achilles tendonitis). You might be more familiar with the names for various tendonitis conditions such as “golfer’s elbow”, “tennis elbow”, “jumper’s knee”, or “swimmer’s shoulder”.
Causes of Tendonitis
Tendonitis is most often caused either by a sudden injury or repetitive strain over time. For sudden injuries, a forceful or sharp motion can tear and inflame tendons. This is more likely to happen if your tendon has been weakened over time. Making the same motion over and over again in your sporting activities such as running, jumping, or swinging a racket/golf club can also place stress on your tendons and lead to tendonitis.
Tendonitis is slightly different from tendon ruptures, which are more sudden tears that occur when the muscle is overstretched beyond its natural limits.
Ways to Avoid Tendonitis During Exercise
1. Warm-up thoroughly
To minimise the trauma on your tendons and joints, take your time to stretch and warm-up for at least 10 minutes before participating in any high-impact activities or your gym session. Make sure you go through a range of mobility exercises to fully lengthen the muscles you are about to exercise. These include arm circles, windmills, forward/reverse lunges, and squat jumps. You can follow this general rule of time: do five minutes of warm-up for every 30 minutes of physical activity.
2. Take things slow
Sports injuries tend to occur if you push too hard and too fast, so don’t rush things. Start things off gently and gradually build up the intensity of your workout — especially if you haven’t exercised in a while. Take breaks during your training and consider exercising on alternate days to give your body time to rest and recuperate.
3. Use proper techniques and equipment
Taking lessons or seeking professional advice that will improve your technique can help prevent tendonitis during exercise. It’s also a good idea to wear equipment that supports your joints, such as elbow braces and knee pads, to relieve pressure on your tendons.
4. Mix things up
High-intensity workouts are great for maximising calorie burn, but too much of them can increase your risk of injury. Try alternating between high and low impact exercises to avoid repetitive motions. Replace sprints with walking on the treadmill, x-trainer, or an elliptical machine. Stretch first thing in the morning on an empty stomach and avoid stretching the same muscle groups every day.
5. Listen to your body
“No pain, no gain,” they say, but pain is your body’s indicator that something is not quite right. If you are experiencing pain during exercise, stop to take a break and assess if you are comfortable resuming. Pay close attention to how you feel and don’t overextend beyond your body’s limit.
When should I see a doctor for an injury?
Minor tendonitis can be treated by yourself at home by icing and supporting the tendon, over-the-counter painkillers, and plenty of rest. But if you are experiencing persistent or intense pain, it is recommended to consult an orthopaedic doctor for medical treatment.
OrthofootMD has extensive expertise in treating tendonitis conditions, including patellar tendonitis, Achilles tendonitis, bicep tendonitis and more. Contact us today or book an appointment at our clinic in Singapore and let us help you embark on the road to recovery.