How to treat and prevent tendonitis? Wave5 Can Help!
What is Tendonitis/Tendinitis?
Tendons, muscles, and bones work hand-in-hand to make movement possible. Tendons connect your muscles to your bones and anchor each movement you take. Tendonitis, an inflammation of the tendons, is painful and debilitating. It can occur at any age and is most common in adult athletes. Although this condition can be caused by a sudden injury, tendonitis is traditionally the result of the repetition of a particular movement over time. Most people develop tendinitis because their jobs or hobbies involve repetitive motions, which stresses the muscles and puts strain on the tendons.
How to Treat Tendonitis?
Follow Our Techniques on the Best Treatments for Tendonitis.
The WAVE5 team has compiled simple and effective ways to prevent, alleviate, and recover from the five most dominant forms of tendonitis: (1) Achilles, (2) rotator cuff, and (3) bicep tendonitis, (4) tennis/golfer’s elbow, and (5) carpel tunnel syndrome.
Preventing, alleviating, and recovering from tendonitis is a temporal (before, during, and after) approach to a potentially long-term problem.
Preventing tendonitis energizes the muscle which prepares the muscle and tendons for use.
Alleviating tendonitis pain means targeting the condition during the acute stage to relieve as much strain on the tendon as possible.
Recovering from tendonitis reconditions the muscle and tendons to heal stronger and healthier.
1. How to treat Achilles Tendonitis.
Your Achilles tendon, the flat tendon that connects your calf muscle to your heel, is often aggravated during quick or powerful movements, or poor fitting shoes.
Preventing Achilles Tendonitis.
Your calves need lots of love. Rarely do they get enough attention to remain pain and injury free. Before you take your next run, trip to the gym, or HIIT or yoga class, use the base of your palms to “wake” up your calves with gradual, energetic pressure. How?
Position the base of your palms on each side of your calf. Using short, slow strokes, begin to move your hands forward and back gently jostling the muscle. Increase your pressure to avoid too much friction and work that movement all the way down to the bottom of your Achilles tendon and return to the top. Spend 30-60 seconds on each calf to increase the blood flow to and alertness of the muscle.
Alleviating Achilles Tendonitis.
Find a comfortable, flat area on the floor, bed, or other fully supported surface. Rest your troubled foot pinky toe side down.
Position your palms on your shin and use your thumbs to gently press into your calf muscle beginning below your knee. Direct your pressure away from your knee as you move your palms down your shin toward your ankle. Slow, gradual pressure reaps big results. Remember: Your pressure does not have to hurt to be effective. Breathable pressure works best.
Once you reach your ankle, work your way back to your starting point below your knee. On the return, use the following lymphatic technique to pull fluids away from the ankle to reduce any swelling. Utilize a light pressure and stroke the muscle from the ankle to above the knee with the palm of your hand. Picture petting a wet dolphin with a soft hand—palm side touching the animal’s skin. You want the fingers to contour around the muscle without gripping or pulling on it. You’re essentially massaging the skin to move fluids underneath. As you get closer to the injury site, the tenderness will increase so be sure to relax. Once you return to the knee region, repeat the whole series. Then rest and elevate your calf.
Recovering from Achilles Tendonitis.
If you’ve previously has tendonitis, when finishing any workout or movement session, you can use a more aggressive pressure than after an acute episode.
Follow the same line from the knee to the ankle (pressure, release, pressure), using your thumbs as your hands guide you. On the return to the knee, use the same pressure, release, pressure technique. This myofascial movement pulls fluid into congested tissue to re-lubricate the injury site with new nutrients and results in more elasticity. Be sure to breathe with each movement and take your time. Again, your pressure does not have to hurt to be impactful.
2. How to Treat Rotator Cuff Tendonitis.
Rotator cuff tendonitis is a general term used to describe inflammation of any of the four rotator cuff muscles (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis, and teres major). The most common inflammation is to the supraspinatus muscle. This is the smallest muscle of the group and rests on the top ridge of the shoulder blade. It travels underneath the AC (acromioclavicular) joint–where your collarbone and shoulder blade meet–and attaches to the top of the upper arm bone. It is the most susceptible to tendonitis because of its position beneath the joint and how we use our shoulder throughout the day. This tendonitis most affects athletes who use their arm to throw a ball (baseball, softball, football, and water polo).
Preventing Rotator Cuff Tendonitis.
Supraspinatus is a tiny, but mighty muscle. This small muscle helps to stabilize the most unstable joint in the body—your shoulder. Without it, your shoulder’s power and strength are limited.
To keep your supraspinatus fully functioning, sit up straight and allow your shoulders to rest on your back—no rolling forward. Keeping your shoulders on your back avoids putting your shoulder into a vulnerable position—it is integrated.
If you have a tendency to slouch or roll your shoulders forward, here’s an everyday solution. Stand tall with your arms relaxed by your sides with your palms facing forward. Breathe in and begin to turn your palms away from your body. Feel the space between your upper arm and ribcage get smaller. You’re activating your lats (latissimus dorsi) and directing them to hold your shoulders in place. Try this a couple of times a day. Over time, your body will start to memorize this position as normal and keep your shoulder in a healthy and strong space.
Alleviating Rotator Cuff Tendonitis.
If the top of your shoulder hurts when you lift your arm to the side or front, it’s time to stop, rest, and regroup. With supraspinatus tendonitis, one way to regroup centers around performing “heart openers”. Heart openers gently open the heart by stretching (1) the pectoralis group, (2) the front of the deltoid, and (3) the bicep to realign the shoulder girdle toward your back. To begin this process, stack two bath towels on top of each other and roll them long ways. You should have a long, puffy bolster. Lay flat on the floor with your back to the ground. Position the towel-roll along your spine from your tailbone to the back of your head. Rest your arms to your sides with palms facing the sky and exhale your shoulders toward the floor.
From this position, you have two options—the second option builds on the first. To begin, let gravity pull your shoulders toward the ground. Feel your muscles stretch away from the midline of your body and relax toward your back body. Your chest muscles stretch to the sky and your back relaxes into the earth. Passively nestle your muscles around the towel.
If you’re wanting more, use your opposite index and middle fingers and find the top ridge of your troubled shoulder blade. Feel for the inside corner–closest to your spine– and begin to gradually introduce pressure to the tissue. Breathe easy and move slowly.
Work your pressure along the ridge toward the shoulder. Once there, follow the line you just traced back toward your spine, applying a uniform pressure. This is a small area to target and isn’t very time consuming. Periodically checking in on this region pays great dividends to the health of your shoulder and posture.
Recovering from Rotator Cuff Tendonitis.
After a workout or a lot of lifting and reaching, supraspinatus tendonitis has a very relaxed or “chill” recovery protocol.
Find the end position on a couch or a chair with arms and grab a couple pillows or towels. Place the pillows (or towels) on the arm rest of the couch or chair.
Use your non-target arm to prop your injured side on the pillows until your arm is fully relaxed. This position allows you to be a little more aggressive with your pressure because the muscle is fully supported and has no stress on it, and you have more leverage to work into the muscle.
Use your middle and index finger to locate the top inside corner of your shoulder blade and begin to gradually add pressure. Trace a line with your pressure from the inside corner of your shoulder blade to the outside corner and return.
If you find an area on top of your shoulder that’s tender, allow your pressure to gradually sink into that spot.
Take your time and don’t force it—this shouldn’t be a painful experience. Spend 30-60 seconds targeting this area then take a break.
3. How to Treat Biceps Tendonitis:
The biceps consist of two muscles and two tendons.
The outside portion of the muscle is the biceps long head, and the inside portion of the muscle is the biceps short head. Biceps tendonitis is classified as inflammation of the long head and is typically a result of repetitive over-head throwing or swinging motions (swimming, baseball, softball, tennis, and more).
Due to the proximity of the rotator cuff muscles, deltoid, and pectoralis (your chest muscle), biceps tendonitis can be felt or referred throughout these regions.
Signs of biceps tendonitis include (1) pain in the front of your shoulder when raising your hands overhead, (2) a traveling achiness in your upper arm, or (3) the occasional snapping sound or sensation in the shoulder.
Preventing Biceps Tendonitis.
The best way to avoid biceps tendonitis is to stretch your biceps. Stand tall with both arms extended to form a “T”. Shape your hands like they’re holding a cup. Pour the contents of those cups on the floor until the crease of your elbow in pointing to the floor. Feel for the subtle stretch along the front of your arm. This activates your triceps to stretch your biceps.
To enhance this stretch, find an easily accessible wall corner in your home, office, or whatever space you’re in. Stand an arms-length away from the wall and raise your arm to shoulder height with your “cup” poured to the floor. Rest the webbing between your thumb and index finger into the corner. Let the crease of your elbow point to the floor. Feel for the stretch in your biceps and hold for a few seconds before switching arms. Stretching this area a few seconds a day keeps the biceps, forearms, shoulder, and elbow mobile.
Alleviating Biceps Tendonitis.
If you feel a sharp pain, achiness, or sudden loss of strength throughout the front of your arm or shoulder, take a break from whatever you’re doing. Then take a seat in a chair or on the couch.
Rest that arm on your thigh or to your side with your palm facing up. Use a pillow or two under your elbow so your arm is fully supported and resting comfortably. With your opposite hand, use the webbing between your thumb and index finger to contour the top, front of your biceps. With your palm, gradually add pressure to your biceps. When you find your feel good pressure (that is a pressure somewhere between ouch that hurts and wow that feels good), slowly release your pressure and glide your hand an inch away from your shoulder before applying pressure again. Work this alternating pressure down to your elbow then return to the top of your biceps. As you return, use the “gliding” movement to gently tug the tissue away from your elbow. This will relieve more stress from the top of your biceps tendon and accelerate the healing process.
Recovering from Biceps Tendonitis.
Biceps tendonitis recovery lets us put the top two biceps techniques together. This technique is commonly referred to as a “pre-stretch.” First we stretch the tissue, then we press on the tissue.
Find the wall corner you used to pour your cup and slowly make your way into the biceps stretch detailed above. Maintain a light stretch. Once you’re comfortable, place your opposite hand on your upper arm and use the base of your palm to add gradual pressure to the biceps followed by a gradual release. Travel slowly with your palm to your elbow and back to the shoulder. This “light” pre-stretch allows for a more direct application of pressure into post-injury tissue.
4. How To Treat Tennis elbow:
Tendonitis of the outside of your elbow is lateral epicondylitis or tennis elbow. The most telling sign that you have tennis elbow is pain radiating around the elbow into the forearm and even into the wrist when you bend or straighten you elbow. This condition is typically caused by repetitive motions of the wrist and arm in tennis, golf, ultimate frisbee, and volleyball.
Preventing Tennis Elbow.
Stretching the muscles of your forearm (extensors) often puts more stress on the joints (wrist and elbow) than helping those muscles. Before you head out for a game, match, or training session, prepare your body.
Preparation is simple. Sit and rest the arm you want to target on your thigh (palm facing down). Place your opposite forearm below the crease of your elbow, perpendicular to your targeted arm. Begin to apply gradual pressure until you find your feel good pressure (somewhere between ouch that hurts and wow that feels good). Slowly release your pressure and slide your forearm a little closer to your wrist then reapply pressure. Continue this pattern as you travel along the muscle toward your wrist. When you reach your wrist, slowly return to the elbow crease applying pressure and following the same muscle line. Your pressure doesn’t need to be uncomfortable. A little pressure goes a long way go. Your muscle will respond to your feel good pressure. No need to be aggressive.
Alleviating Tennis Elbow.
When tennis elbow flairs up, begin by resting that arm on a supported surface so your arm is weightless (prop up your arm with pillows or towels to create a soft cushion). With your opposite hand, use the tips of your four fingers to gently push the tissue of your forearm across the bone—that is away from your body. This technique moves the tissue without adding stress to the injury site. When applying pressure this way to the soft tissue–skin, fascia, muscle, and tendons– you (1) promote circulation into the injured tissue, (2) offer pressure to the congested tissue which helps reduce pain, and (3) increases movement in the muscle which avoids additional swelling.
Recovering from Tennis Elbow.
When recovering from a workout or movement that was elbow-, wrist-, or grip-heavy, take a minute or two to apply pressure into the tendon below your elbow. Use the thumb pad of your opposite hand to find the tender point on your elbow, inhale, and apply pressure. Exhale as you increase your pressure. Don’t get discouraged on finding the “right” spot—it may take a few tries.
Pain doesn’t always reveal its source. You may find several tender spots. Once you find the most tender spot, release your pressure to travel a very short distance toward your wrist and allow your pressure to sink in again. Think of that tender spot being the size of a pin head, and your thumb travels around the pinhead. These micro movements bring fluids to the damaged tendon to help expedite the healing process and maintain the strength of your muscle. Circling the tender point ensures that (1) the most tender spot was actually hit and (2) the surrounding tissue, which contributed to the problem, is treated as well. The goal is to treat the whole area not just spot treat.
5. How to Treat Carpal Tunnel
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that causes numbness, tingling, or weakness in your hand. Your median nerve, which runs the length of your arm, goes through a passage in your wrist called the carpal tunnel, and ends in your hand. When the tendons in this area become inflamed (that is your flexor muscles or the palm side of your forearms), carpel tunnel can occur. Carpel tunnel can be caused by extensive typing, writing, or griping objects.
Preventing Carpal Tunnel.
To stretch the flexor group, use the opposite hand to help stretch the front or palm side of your forearm. To keep these muscles healthy, begin by creating a “pincher” grip with your opposite thumb and four fingers. Position your thumb pad on front of your elbow below your elbow crease. Rest your four fingers on the top of your forearm and apply gradual pressure like you are squeezing a sandwich together before you eat it. Spend 30 seconds on each forearm. This invigorates your hands, elbow, and shoulders feel better while avoiding downtime.
Alleviating Carpal Tunnel.
When you’re working at a computer or trying to grip or throw, and your hand begins to tingle or your hand and forearm demonstrate noticeable strength changes, stop what you’re doing. Rest your palm to the sky. Take your opposite thumb and place it on your forearm halfway between your elbow and your wrist. Gradually add pressure into the tissue until it “hurts but feels good” then release and repeat your pressure a little closer to your wrist. Your pressure into the tissue and the movement toward your wrist eases the pressure around the carpal tunnel and the compression onto the median nerve. Once your pressure reaches your wrist, place the palm across your wrist and slowly slide your hand over the skin and back to your elbow.
Recovering from Carpal Tunnel.
Whether you’ve spent a long day at the computer, biking, holding tools in the garage, or playing the piano, you only need a few seconds to help recover the flexors.
A few minutes treating this area can make a big difference. Here’s how. Place the arm to be recovered palm up in your lap. Position the forearm bone of the opposite arm just below your elbow crease. Gradually begin to add pressure with your forearm into the tissue. Increase your pressure until you find the “hurts but feel good” sensation and breathe. Release your pressure and slide a half inch toward your wrist. Feel the tissue pull away from your elbow as you move down your arm. This takes stress from the tendons and tissue near your wrist and keeps the carpal tunnel of your hand (the pathway) mobile, relaxed, and feeling good. Use your breath as you apply and release pressure into the muscle.
Tendonitis can be debilitating. If left unchecked, you can lose mobility and are prone to additional injuries and imbalances. When your body signals pain and discomfort, it’s telling you something is wrong.
Listen to your body.
Spending a few minutes preparing your muscles, alleviating an active attack, and recovering from movement will keep tendonitis at bay and your body coasting for a lifetime.
Invest in Your WAVE5 – Muscle Recovery System Today and start taking concrete action and control over your tendonitis.