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The Truth About Tendonitis

Have you ever been diagnosed with tendonitis, or is it something you feel like you are currently struggling with?

Tendons are incredibly important structures which store and release energy, allowing for powerful dynamic movement. When a tendon is not functioning well it can limit us greatly. Both because of pain and a long-term effect on our performance. Historically, a tendon injury was called “tendonitis”, which references an inflammation/acute injury that should resolve itself with rest over time. But, over the past 10 years our understanding of chronic tendon injuries has improved and the term Tendinopathy is now used to accurately describe this common condition. Plus, we now know that rest this is the worst thing that you can do for a cranky tendon and it rarely goes away on its own!

So…If rest and “pushing through pain” will not resolve this issue what will? Here are my top 5 tips for resolving chronic tendon pain.

1) Exercise is the most evidence-based treatment for tendinopathy – tendons need to be worked progressively so that they can develop greater tolerance to stress during activity. In the majority of cases a tendinopathy will not improve without this type of a program.

2) Tendinopathy rarely improves long term with ONLY passive treatments such as manual therapy, therapeutic ultrasound, injections, shock-wave therapy etc. Manual therapy can be an important part of your treatment in the beginning to get you out of pain. However, a corrective exercise prescription is the vital ingredient to make a lasting change.

3) Modifications are important in settling tendon pain. This often involves reducing (at least in the short-term) activities that aggravate the tendon. Working with a dance specialist who understands what you do every day is key. A dance specialist can help you understand how to move in a way that is not overworking the tendon and help you modify activity so that you can continue to dance through the process.

4) Corrective exercise needs to be individualized. Tendon pain rarely resolves with group programming. It is vital to address what specifically is overloading the tendon and create an individualized program.

5) Tendinopathies responds very slowly to exercise. So, you need to have patience and commit to treatment. Try and resist the common temptation to give up or accept ‘short cuts’ like injections and surgery. There are often no short cuts and your commit will pay off.

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