Your body moves with the help of tendons — strong bands of fiber that connect your bones and muscles. For example, when you lift an arm, your shoulder muscles contract, and the tendons that connect to them lift your arm bones up.
Tendonitis is a painful condition that can develop when a tendon suffers serious or frequent damage. Repetitive motions with work, strain while playing sports, and other types of overuse can tear tendons, causing inflammation and pain.
Common areas at risk for tendonitis are the elbow, shoulder, hip, and knee. Minor tears often heal quickly, but ongoing overuse can lead to chronic tendonitis and pain. At Garden State Pain Management,with three locations in New Jersey, Todd Koppel, MD specializes in platelet-rich plasma therapy for tendonitis and is an expert in both preventing injury and helping patients live their lives with less pain.
Dr. Koppel’s six best tips for reducing your chances of developing tendonitis are listed here:
1. Warm up before activities
Start slowly before performing a strenuous activity or playing a sport. Taking the time to warm up your body and your muscles helps reduce your risk of injury. If you’re a runner, start out walking for a few minutes. If you play tennis, try dynamic stretching to warm up your arms as well as your legs.
2. Don’t overdo it
If an activity is causing pain, take a break. Anything from playing softball to raking leaves can cause a tendon to strain or tear.
Tendonitis pain often develops when you try to push your body past its limit, but the pain won’t go away if you just ignore it. Simply stop what you’re doing and let your body recover. You can try again later in the day, but be sure to stop again if the pain returns. Pain is your body’s signal that something’s wrong. Listen to it.
3. Try activities that are low-impact
Sports can be hard on the body, especially if you’re a “weekend athlete” who only plays a few times a month. Baseball, softball, and other sports that require throwing and swinging commonly cause tendonitis. Running is another common activity that’s notoriously hard on the body.
If you have tendonitis, it doesn’t mean you have to stop being active. Try low-impact activities like swimming or biking to keep you moving while your tendon heals.
4. Strengthen your muscles through training
Strength training is an important part of any healthy exercise routine, and it can help prevent tendonitis. Focus on strengthening the muscles around the joints you use in your sport or activity. Stronger muscles are better able to withstand stress and repeated motions.
If you play a sport, consider working to improve your technique. Swinging a golf club or tennis racket incorrectly could increase your risk of suffering injury, even if you warm up beforehand. Taking professional lessons can help you perfect your technique and your game.
5. Cool down after activities
Cooling down means slowly returning to a state of rest. After you exercise or perform other strenuous activities, take time to stretch. Stretching your muscles after you use them helps your body recover. It also minimizes repetitive trauma and reduces your risk of being stiff and tight later on.
6. Evaluate your workspace ergonomics
People spend a lot of time at their jobs. Some work requires repetitive motions that put you at risk for tendonitis, and it’s a good idea to follow the above tips before beginning working at a job that requires manual labor.
But even if you have a desk job, you could be at risk for injury — repetitive activities such as typing and data entry are notorious for causing problems. Get an ergonomic assessment of your chair, keyboard, and monitor to make sure that you aren’t putting strain on tendons in your hands, arms, and other parts of your body.