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Overcoming Tendon Pain (Tendonitis or Tendinosis)

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By Cory Cook
ftpain ImageThere are many things that can kill your motivation for wanting to train and work out.

One of the largest contributors to the lack of motivation to train is caused by pains in the body.

Tendon pain can be a huge “pain in the a$$” when it comes to bodybuilding. This tendon pain can be anywhere in the body and can really devastate your ability to give your all to the workouts.

I am speaking from experience in this area. For a while I have been a sufferer of tendon pains in my fingers and hands. Try to imagine doing deadlifts when it hurts to grip the bar.

I have tried many things to overcome this problem. Things such as going to a chiropractor, different types of stretches, self massages, and other types of techniques. All this has led me to do a lot of research in this area so that I can continue to train and become the warrior I was meant to be.

I am starting to recover quite well for most of the tendon pain I have been experiencing. I still have some occasional pain, mainly if I overuse certain tendons. In this article we are going to focus on some of the areas that have helped me along the way to overcome these tendon pains.

First we will be covering the different types of tendon pains. Then we will shift our focus and talk about what causes these different types of tendon pains. Then lastly we will cover ways that you can overcome and prevent these tendon pains, so you can get back on your path to becoming a warrior.

Difference Between Tendonitis and Tendinosis

There are two common different spellings for each one.  However, tendonitis/tendinitis and tendonosis/tendinosis refer to the two exact same issues.

The first step in determining if you are suffering from tendonitis or tendinosis is analyzing if it is in fact tendon pain. This step is a little hard to do on your own without getting “qualified professional guidance”, by a sports chiropractor or a doctor.

But once you’ve had tendon pain, you can pretty much differentiate it between muscle pain or joint pain. Really the only way to truly know 100% is by getting an X-ray, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), or Ultrasound performed on the area in question.

Once you find out that the pain you are experiencing is in fact a tendon related problem, next you have to figure out if it’s tendonitis or tendinosis. Wondering what the difference is between these two?

Tendonitis is pain that comes about due to inflammation of the tendon. The pain associated with tendonitis is usually short-lived and goes away on its own fairly quickly. Usually most tendon pain is NOT caused by inflammation. However, if the pain you are experiencing last for quite a while then it is most likely in the form of Tendinosis.

Although the most common form of tendon injuries you hear people talking about is tendonitis, actually most people with tendon pain are likely experiencing tendinosis. Tendinosis is associated with micro-tears and degeneration of the tendons over a long period of time.

What Causes Tendonitis and Tendinosis?

Well that sucks right? However, are you wondering what actually causes these pains to happen? Here is a quote by Webmd.com explaining the causes of most tendon injuries:

“Most tendon injuries are the result of gradual wear and tear to the tendon from overuse or aging. Anyone can have a tendon injury. But people who make the same motions over and over in their jobs, sports, or daily activities are more likely to damage a tendon.

A tendon injury can happen suddenly or little by little. You are more likely to have a sudden injury if the tendon has been weakened over time.”

That’s right, as you can see repetitive motions and overuse contribute highly to the development of tendon related problems. You are probably starting to see how the repetitive motions of bodybuilding exercises makes you a possible candidate to developing a tendon injury.

I have a tendency to over use my hands and fingers. Whether it is playing guitar, typing, using a mouse, or working out in the gym, I give my fingers and hands a massive workout almost daily. So in the next section, I came up with 10 ways that are useful in overcoming and the prevention of tendon injuries. Well what are we waiting for, let’s dive right into this.

Ways to Overcome and Prevent Tendon Injuries

As I mentioned before, I have a tendency to over use my hands and fingers, so I have been researching ways to overcome the pain in my tendons so that I can continue doing what I want to do. My recommendations are to try and do as many of these as possible to get the best results.

I believe that the higher the combinations of these examples you use, will end up having the greatest impact not only on the ability to overcome your tendon injuries, but also on the prevention of these tendon related problems in the long run.

 

Go to a Sports Chiropractor and Get A.R.T (Active Release Technique) Work on the Area

Nope I’m NOT talking about painting a picture ;) . I am talking about Active Release Technique that is used to treat problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and nerves. A.R.T. is a massage based technique that incorporates movement with it to help remove scar tissue from tendons and muscles.

Scar tissue from a tendon injury can be some of the main reasons why the pain will NOT go away. This scar tissue decreases the range of motion, reduces flexibility, reduces strength, and can also cause nerves to get trapped.

Active Release Technique helps to remold the scar tissue in a way that is more in line with the actual tendon fibers. In turn, this will help to strengthen the tendons, improve flexibility, increase range of motion and help nerves that are being trapped.

NOT every chiropractor is certified in A.R.T. So if this is something you are interested in you can go –> here and find a provider in your area.

 

Stretching Your Muscles and Tendons

Stretching is NOT the task everyone enjoys, but it plays its part in the recovery and prevention of muscle and tendon related injuries. Do NOT perform stretching if you have just experienced a muscle or tendon injury. You want to wait until your body has mostly healed from the injuries before you start using it for repair.

Stretching allows the muscles to be more elastic and gets them back into their natural length. Strength training has the tendency to cause these muscles to contract and shorten causing tightness and a lack of mobility. Since your muscles are attached to and are what operate your tendons, what is affecting them can also cause a reaction in your tendons.

 

Get Acupuncture to Open Energy Channels and Allow Healing

acuneed ImageAcupuncture is an alternative form of healing that has been around for thousands of years. It is used for all types of issues and one of those issues is tendon pain.

Acupuncture works by inserting very thin metal needles into certain parts of the body to activate and stimulate “qi” or circulation to the affected areas.

If treated regularly, it can help the healing of tendon fibers, remove physical pain, and also remove inflammations. Since tendons often suffer from a lack of circulation, getting regular sessions can do wonders for increasing nutrients to the tendons and increasing the rate of healing.

*Note Acupuncture is not for everyone, make sure you get approval by a medical doctor before attempting Acupuncture.

 

Massage and Foam Rolling

Getting a massage or using a foam roller can do wonders in rejuvenating your muscles. Over time muscles get adhesions or knots in their fibers causing a decrease in mobility and flexibility. Like I said previously, your tendons are attached to muscles and it is these muscles that cause the tendons to function.

Therefore, adhesions in the muscles can be a huge part of the problem. You want to try and massage out these knots on a consistent basis. You can use many different ways to accomplish this such as:

  • Foam Rollers (You can get a good foam roller –> here)
  • Massage Balls (You can get a good massage ball –> here)
  • Getting an Actual Massage
  • Tennis Balls
  • Lacrosse Balls
  • Thera Cane (Used on areas hard to reach, take a look –> here)
  • Palmmassager (Cheap little portable device, check it out –> here)

camass ImageEach of those items can serve a different purpose. Foam rollers are good for large muscle groups.

However, massage balls, tennis balls, and lacrosse balls are better suited for massaging out smaller muscles like the forearms, calves and traps.

I notice that if my hands and finger tendons are hurting, sometimes it is being caused by these knots or adhesions in my forearm muscles. So by spending some time massaging out these adhesions in my forearms, helps a great deal with my hand and fingers being able to operate more efficiently.

 

Warm Up Before Exercises

You’ve heard it many times before, warm up before doing exercises. Most people think this is just to prevent muscle injuries, however, it is even more important to prevent tendon injuries. Tendons have less flexibility than muscles do and they have a tendency to get less blood flow as well. This makes it extremely important to do warm up sets and exercises before a workout.

Do NOT start off lifting heavy weights without working up to them. Start off with foam rolling to loosen up muscles, then focus on some mobility exercises to loosen up joints and tendons. After that you can move to some easy sets to get the blood flowing and gradually work your way up to the sets that are going to produce the muscle growth. An increase in blood to those muscles and tendons will go a long way in preventing injuries to those areas from your workouts.

 

Switch Up the Types of Exercises You Are Doing

Try changing up your program once in a while by performing different types of exercises. Part of the cause of tendon related problems arise from doing repetitive motions. By picking the same exercises all the time, you’re setting yourself up for a repetitive motion injury.

For example, if you usually do bench presses, then alternate by doing different types of push-ups, dips, dumbbell presses, or dumbbell flys. The key is not to be moving your tendons and muscles in the same way every time you workout. If you are changing it up once in a while and moving in a different direction, than it will be more challenging to get a repetitive motion injury.

 

Hot Mineral Soaks

Unless there is inflammation going on around your tendons, then a hot mineral bath or soak could help speed up recovery to your muscles and tendons. Tendons do NOT get as much blood supply as muscles do, so soaking them in hot water will increase circulation to them. This means more nutrients to heal and recover those muscles and tendons.

Mineral salts add another benefit to the soaking by providing essential minerals needed for recovery and healing. A good mineral salt like Dead Sea Mineral Salts can give you that added bonus while soaking.

 

Negative Training

Negative training is another useful way to help improve tendon functions. As mentioned before, adhesions in the tendons and muscles play their part in the problems of tendon injuries and tendon pain.

Negative training can help remove built up adhesions when done regularly. To perform negative training you are basically just doing the “eccentric” part of an exercise. There are two parts of an exercise “concentric” and “eccentric”.

Eccentric movement is defined as moving the same direction as gravity. For example, say you are having bicep tendon pain and when you do dumbbell curls it worsens. Starting at the bottom and raising the weight against gravity to the top is the concentric part of the exercise. That is the part that causes tendon pain to worsen.

Now as you slowly lower it down, going with gravity, that is the eccentric part of the exercise. That is the part that helps remove the adhesions of the affected area. You want to remove the concentric part and only focus on the eccentric part to rehab the tendon injury.

Focus on doing this and increasing the weight as you improve. Slowly lower the weight or perform the eccentric part of the exercise. Over time this will remove adhesions that are build up in the muscles and tendons.

 

Working Opposing Weaker Muscle Groups

oppmus ImageThis tip goes into a related approach with the previous section on performing negative training, except for the fact you will be performing both concentric and eccentric parts of the exercise.

The approach here is to build up the opposite muscle groups of the affected area to help balance out muscle imbalances that could be related to your tendon problems.

Remaining in muscular balance is highly important if you want to remain injury free. Basically the exercise you will do is determined by the area that is hurting. If the tendon in the front shoulder is bothering you and it hurts to do chest pressing exercises, chances are you need to develop your back muscles more.

The key here would be starting to focus primarily on rowing exercises to build up your back muscles. This will help to balance out the chest/back opposing muscle group.

What I decided to do since my problem is rooted in my hand tendons, is to buy a device called The Xtensor Hand Exerciser. This device works by working the top part of my hands to balance out my gripping and typing muscles.

The first time using this device showed me that those muscles on the top of my hands were very weak. As I continue to build their strength, it will start to balance out the opposing muscle groups.

If you are also having problems with your tendons in your wrist, forearms or hands you could most likely benefit from this device as well. If you are interested in getting it, you can get it at the following link for the cheapest price I could find it online. –> Get The Xtensor Hand Exerciser.

 

Minimize or Find a Different Way of Doing the Things that Cause Tendon Pain

If you are experiencing a tendon related injury that is causing lots of pain, then you need to give that tendon a period of rest. You should NOT just suffer through the pain and keep doing what you have been doing, because that could cause further damage to your tendons.

After a period of rest, your tendon should be feeling good enough to start taking things slow again, so this is a good time to begin a rehab period to get its strength back.

Now if you are dealing more with nagging tendon pain like tendinosis, then you might benefit from finding alternative ways of doing things that put less strain on that tendon.

For example, my finger tendons are often over worked leading to pain. Therefore, I decided to minimize how much typing I actually do and started using a text to speech program. By using this program it greatly reduces the extra work my fingers and tendons would have to do by typing. This leaves me able to focus using them on other areas while minimizing the possibility of overworking the tendons.

On Your Way to Healing

I hope you found all these tips helpful in overcoming tendon related pain and injuries. I would try and focus on including as much of these tips as possible and stick with them. Sometimes it is easier to prevent these injuries from happening in the first place than it is to try and recover from them. These tips can help you prevent these tendon injuries from ever happening in the first place.

Until Next Time,

Cory Cook


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8 Responses to “Overcoming Tendon Pain (Tendonitis or Tendinosis)”


  1. Fajar Says:

    Thanks Cory for sharing!

    I recently experience pain in my wrist and wasn’t sure what it was. I was doing some punching and all over sudden this pain developed in my wrist. It was only hurting during the impact, but normally without doing anything I couldn’t feel the pain. Would you think that is tendons? The pain went away the next day, but I realized that it might happen again when doing some intensive exercises like that.

    I’m thinking it was out of weakness of my wrist the pain developed. Any advice would be great.


  2. Cory Says:

    Hey Fajar,

    Thanks for reading the post. I would say that if you are training with a punching bag and you are new at this type of training, then it is more likely dealing with the joints in your wrist and elbows. Impact training (like punching a bag) can put some strain on the joints because the energy from the punch absorbs into the thing you are punching as well as back into your arm.

    It is important with impact training to first start with little force behind the punch and focus on the form of the punch. After that slowly keep increasing the power of the punch while still staying in perfect form. This will allow your joints and tendons time to adapt to the impact of the punch.

    But I would have to say that it not a tendon injury if the pain went away the next day. Tendon injuries usually last a week depending, of course on how bad it was injured. However, it could be a slight strain to the tendons, if you are gripping your fist too tight or from the impact of the punch. I would just not punch as hard next time and see if that helps.

    Cory


  3. Fajar Says:

    Thanks Cory, well explained. I will try that next time.

    By the way, I bought the foam roller and that thing is great.

    Thanks again.

    Keep Strong,


  4. Cory Says:

    No problem Fajar!

    That is what we’re here for, my warrior friend.


  5. Sean Says:

    wat an articule m8. i have been training the last 4 years but the last almost 2 my elbow joints have been really bothering me. my doc just said stop, and swim or something. i cant im hooked. never hurts in the gym but it hurts holding a heavy shoping bag, or gripping a pint glass etc. I have got some trigger point therapy done and it helps, and i use a ball to rub on my forearms. been at this not couple of months and it stops the pain in the joints but i can still feel the trigger points (knots) in forearms and triceps and feel joint pain each day unless i do TPT several times. i will continue to train. i cant stop till my arms fall off. i have adviced of a gym member to take deca, but im not really into roids. (did think it could be a options if pain contines but then i found the trigger point therapy workbook.but he said it helped him. thats just my story man. great articule and great havin this info come up on my facebook. cheers


  6. Cory Says:

    Hey Sean thanks for the comment,
    Yea lifting weights can put a big toll on the body especially the tendons and joints. I am about in the same spot as you, I am trying to fully recover from tendon pains yet still want to workout so that I can keep progressing. Yea you pretty much have to try and get rid of those knots on a daily basis to prevent injuries. I get those knots in my forearms too, I use a massage ball and try to roll them out as much as possible. It almost seems like I spend more time rolling, massaging and stretching muscles than I actually do working out lol. But it is best to try and prevent any serious injuries by taking things slow if you are feeling lots of pain. You could always switch up your program if you still want to train, focus on building joint and tendon strength by doing static holds for the exercises instead of doing the full motion. That is the approach I am starting to focus on. Also if you are doing lost of bench presses and such, those things can really hurt your shoulders and elbows. You might want to either do dumbbell presses or different variations of pushups instead of the bench press. Best of luck,

    Cory


  7. Maz Says:

    Very interesting article ! Though it seems i must be a complex case ! I have Tendinosis in my Elbow. 2 years i have suffered with pain that is worse than childbirth !
    I have had pain killers that make me high but yet dont take the pain away, Guided Ultra sound injections 3 times and Damn!!! ..they hurt like hell!. Not to mention Physio, accupuncture , eccentric exercises ,elbow straps, rest etc etc .
    Yet two years later i’m in more pain than i ever was!
    Im female, 43 and dont lift weights ( i wish ) !! Any other advice or info that you know of Cory would be hugely appreciated before i chop half my arm off lol! I’m based in the UK so probably have diff treatments here. Maz


  8. Cory Says:

    Hey Maz,
    Yea it is challenging getting back to 100% after you have had Tendinosis. Sounds like you tried quite a bit. I would suggest a couple things. First I would search Sport Chiropractors in your area and see if any of them offer A.R.T (Active Release Technique). If they do then start going there and have them work on you. It really started helping my tendons repair and got some of the scar tissue off of them to increase flexibility. I would also suggest going to get deep tissue massages too and tell the person working on you about your Tendinosis.

    Sometimes the muscles connecting to the tendons can be really tight causing your tendon to get pulled out of position. Also stretching is really important, (not sure if you are doing that) of course do not stretch if the area is inflamed or swollen or if massive pain is happening. Stretching is used to prevent further pain by elongating the tendons and muscles to remove the tightness and try to make sure the tendon is properly aligned. Another important thing is to make sure your nutrition is right. Make sure you are taking a good organic multivitamin, such as Vitamin Code and also make sure you are getting enough Vitamin D. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables to make sure you are getting nutrients, make sure you are eating enough protein (it is needed to help repair tendons).

    One other thing I suggest is making your own Bone Broth. If you ever buy a whole organic chicken, after you cook it and eat it, take the remainders of it bones and all and put it in a crock pot. You can also add Hamhock’s, Soup Bones and other boney items. Put some Organic unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar (a quarter of a cup or so) to extract the nutrients from the bones. Then fill the rest of the pot up with filtered water. You want to cook it on low for about 4 days, and you can put used metal tuna cans underneath the pot to lessen the heat from the heating element. Just make sure you take the paper off of it. After about day two or three, take a metal spoon and the lid and look for some of the chicken bones in the pot. Once you find them, put them on the lid and start trying to crush up the bones completely to get the marrow out of them. Then put it back into the pot. If you want you can even add some vegetables the last day and cook them in the broth to add more nutrients. The 4th day turn it off and let it cool, get a slotted spoon and scoop out the vegetables and chicken meat and you can save it for dog food if you have a dog. Then get a metal strainer and pour the broth into a container through the strainer (We use a glass blender container) Then pour it into Mason Jars and put it in the refrigerator. You can scoop out any fat from the top after they cool, then put the lid back on and make sure you shake it up before use.

    By doing that you will have an awesome bone and tendon supplement, better than any on the market. You can use the broth for many things: a soup base, instead of water for rice, or heat it up and get Miso paste, and seaweed and make a miso soup. However you can eat it just take it down. It has really started helping my tendons and bones to heal. Tendons take a long time to repair so you have to consistently keep using it for months to get the benefits of it.

    Hope I gave you a few more ideas, :)
    Cory

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