Having tendonitis is a common problem when playing strength sport. In truth, the term “tendonitis” is misleading although it is the most frequently used term; it is better to speak of tendinopathy, because the term “tendonitis” suggests that it is inflammation, which it is not. It is a wear and tear of tendon structures such as disorganization and damage to collagen fibers.
They can be due to an imbalance between the development of muscles and tendons (ex: doing weight training by not respecting the eccentric phase; other ex: during cycles of strength), to a long effort repeated regularly ( ex: at work), muscles that are too weak (ex: when you wear something when your forearms are too weak, the load will pull the whole arm and it is the tendon that will bear the weight load).
Either way, once the pain is there it’s hard to get rid of, and there’s a good chance it will return when it is believed to be gone.
However, there are different ways to either protect yourself from it (if you have no worries at this level, it is important to take preventative precautions so that this does not happen), or to cure it, if it does. is already installed.
1. Training: to strengthen the tendon
- It is very important to hold the load on the descent (the second phase of a weight training movement that comes after the contraction, called the eccentric phase).
- When lifting weights, whether in sport or on a daily basis, care should be taken to use your muscles to hold the load, and not to let it hang down at arm’s length.
- If tendinopathy is set in, you can start by giving yourself a week’s break to relieve the pain. But it is important to resume physical activity afterwards, because even if the break is long, when it is time to resume sport, the pain will return immediately.
- When it comes time to resume sports activity, practice eccentrically. The principle is simple: do 4 sets of 20 repetitions each day (giving yourself at least a day or two of rest per week) of an exercise that solicits the joint where the tendon is damaged; during the concentric phase (contraction), use your free hand to lift the load (which should be relatively light), then concentrate on holding the load during the eccentric phase. For example, if you have left elbow tendopathy (epicondylitis), do 20 repetitions of wrist extensions with a dumbbell: during the extension, use your right hand to lift the dumbbell, then let go and let go. the left hand slowly descend while retaining the weight. Take a 30/60 second break, then repeat three more times.
- This eccentric workout, inspired by Stanish’s proven protocol, should be preceded and followed by light stretching, lasting at least thirty seconds each time.
2. Nutritional principles: to nourish the tendon, rebuild it and prevent its deterioration
- You need to hydrate yourself thoroughly. As part of a sporting activity, this should be a constant habit.
- Add a collagen-based food supplement to your diet to nourish and strengthen the tendons.
3. External relief: to reduce pain in the short term
- Anti-inflammatory drugs in the form of tablets or topical cream can be a very short-term solution only, to relieve the inflammation when the pain is really unbearable. After that, prefer to return to the gym to apply the training principles explained before.
- Ice packs are very effective in relieving inflammation, but always on a temporary basis.
- Osteopathy can help relieve pain. However, while it provides greater and longer-term relief than medication, it does not strengthen tendons, and the pain often returns quickly.
- Massage is a gentle, non-contraindicated way to help relieve pain.
The practice of a sport must remain a passion, a pleasure. It would be such a shame to have to stop for small problems that can cause a real handicap in the long term! For this it is important to take charge as soon as possible, and remember that prevention is very important.