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30 Jun 2021

Tendinitis is a condition where the connective tissues between your muscles and bones become inflamed. Often caused by repetitive activities at work or play, tendinitis can be quite painful but can be healed with adequate rest and adopting correct posture or technique for any activity.

If you are prone to doing physical tasks the same way, over and over again, you could be unknowlingly laying repetitive strain on some parts of your body which are going to throw in the towel some day.

While certain occupations require one to take awkward positions or indulge in certain repetitive motions, these tend to cause a condition known as ‘tendinitis’ for some people. There are also a host of sports which give rise to tendinitis because of the need for certain repetitive movements.

If you are a sportsperson, you may be more likely to develop tendinitis, especially if your technique isn’t the best. This is common among players of baseball, basketball, bowling, golf, running, swimming, and tennis who need to constantly take care if they want to continue enjoying the sport of your choice.

Tendinitis is inflammation or irritation of a tendon — the thick fibrous cords that attach muscle to bone. The condition causes pain and tenderness just outside a joint. Most cases of tendinitis can be successfully treated with rest, physical therapy and medications to reduce pain. But, if tendinitis is severe and leads to the rupture of a tendon, you may need surgery.

Although tendinitis can be caused by a sudden injury, the condition is much more likely to stem from the repetition of a particular movement over time. Most people develop tendinitis because their jobs or hobbies involve repetitive motions, which put stress on the tendons.

Using proper technique is especially important when performing repetitive sports movements or job-related activities. Improper technique can overload the tendon and lead to tendinitis. The most common symptoms are pain, often described as a dull ache, especially when moving the affected limb or joint, tenderness, and swelling, all of which need due attention and rest.

  1. Prevention

To reduce your chance of developing tendinitis, follow these suggestions:

Ease up – Avoid activities that place excessive stress on your tendons, especially for prolonged periods. If you notice pain during a particular exercise, stop and rest.

Mix it up – If one exercise or activity causes you a particular, persistent pain, try something else. Cross-training can help you mix up an impact-loading exercise, such as running, with lower impact exercise, such as biking or swimming.

Improve technique – If your technique in an activity or exercise is flawed, you could be setting yourself up for problems with your tendons. Consider taking lessons or getting professional instructions when starting a new sport or using exercise equipment.

Stretch – Take time after exercise to stretch in order to maximise the range of motion of your joints. This can help to minimize repetitive trauma on tight tissues. The best time to stretch is after exercise, when your muscles are warmed up.

Work right – If possible, get an ergonomic assessment of your workspace and adjust your chair, keyboard and desktop as recommended for your height, arm length and usual tasks. This will help protect all your joints and tendons from excessive stress.

Warm up – Strengthening muscles used in your activity or sport can help them better withstand stress and load.

Sports injuries

Tendinitis is a common sports-related injury which can occur in any of your tendons but it is most common around your shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees and heels. Some common names for various tendinitis problems are Tennis elbow, Golfer’s elbow, Pitcher’s shoulder, Swimmer’s shoulder, and Jumper’s knee.

Tennis elbow

Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) is a painful condition that occurs when tendons in your elbow are overloaded, usually by repetitive motions of the wrist and arm. Despite its name, athletes aren’t the only people who develop tennis elbow. People whose jobs feature the types of motions that can lead to tennis elbow include plumbers, painters, carpenters and butchers.

The pain of tennis elbow occurs primarily where the tendons of your forearm muscles attach to a bony bump on the outside of your elbow. Pain can also spread into your forearm and wrist.

Golfer’s elbow

Golfer’s elbow is a condition that causes pain where the tendons of your forearm muscles attach to the bony bump on the inside of your elbow. The pain might spread into your forearm and wrist. Golfer’s elbow is similar to tennis elbow, which occurs on the outside of the elbow. It’s not limited to golfers.

Tennis players and others who repeatedly use their wrists or clench their fingers also can develop golfer’s elbow. The pain of golfer’s elbow doesn’t have to keep you off the course or away from your favourite activities. Rest and appropriate treatment can get you back into the swing of things.

Pitcher’s shoulder

When you’re a baseball pitcher, you engage in repetitive overhead motion that places significant stress on your shoulder. Pitcher’s shoulder or thrower’s shoulder, is an injury that affects many baseball players. It is an overuse injury that is caused by an increased load placed upon the rotator cuff. 

While the name suggests that this is a baseball injury, any athlete that participates in a sport where repetitive overhand motions are required can sustain this injury. Some of these sports include tennis, volleyball, and track and field events. Pain is the most common symptom among pitchers and other throwing athletes.

Swimmer’s shoulder

Swimmer’s shoulder, also called shoulder impingement, is a condition where swimmers often aggravate their shoulders while they swim due to the constant joint rotation. The sport of swimming is unique in that the shoulders are used to propel the weight of the body, against the resistance of water. Maximal range of motion and flexibility is required for the most efficient swimming. Sometimes, this can result in increased shoulder laxity, or instability. 

Approximately 90 per cent of swimmer’s complaints are related to problems with their shoulders, and one of the most notable is a condition known as swimmer’s shoulder.

Jumper’s knee

Jumper’s knee, also known as patellar tendonitis, is a condition characterized by inflammation of your patellar tendon. This connects your kneecap (patella) to your shin bone (tibia). Jumper’s knee weakens your tendon, and, if untreated, can lead to tears in your tendon.

Jumper’s knee is caused by overuse of your knee joint, such as frequent jumping on hard surfaces.

It’s usually a sports-related injury, linked to leg muscle contraction and the force of hitting the ground. This strains your tendon. With repeated stress, your tendon may become inflamed.

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