Best Exercises for Tendonitis



By: Jared Ernest, PT

This article reveals quick answers to the most often asked questions about tendonitis.  

What is Tendonitis?

The quick answer is that Tendonitis in its basic form is just inflammation of a tendon. However, left untreated can develop into a more complex problem in the joint of the body. 

Your tendons are flexible cord like structures that attach bone to muscles. Tendons are located throughout the entire body. The tendon functions to allow the pull of the muscle to the bone to cause movement.

What are the Causes of Tendonitis

Repetitive stress can cause tendonitis.  This man has tennis elbow which is a form of tendonitis.

While tendonitis can be caused by a sudden forceful movement it is more commonly produced by the repetitive, minimal impact on the affected area over time. 

The most common type we see in the clinic is overuse. This effect is basically doing an excessive amount of activity that overloads the tendon in a manner that your body is not typically used to. 

An example would be a worker that had a sedentary desk job and doesn’t exercise regularly but goes out and plays flag football on the weekend. Watch this VIDEO about tennis elbow.

Can Anyone Get Tendonitis?

The quick answer is yes, anyone at any age can get tendonitis. But it is more common in adults mainly older than 40.  The reason is that as we age our tendons react more negatively to stress and are less elastic. This change makes you more susceptible to tendonitis. Examples are shoulder tendonitis and tendonitis elbow.

What Parts of the Body Are You More Likely to Get Tendonitis?

The quick answer is while tendonitis can happen anywhere in the body where a tendon is located, the highest instances of occurrence are:

  • Base of Thumb
  • Elbow
  • Shoulder
  • Hip
  • Knee
  • Achilles Tendon or heel
  • Wrist

Does Stretching Help Tendonitis?

Stretching can be helpful to manage tendonitis and improve tissue mobility. woman doing a doorway stretch for shoulder tendonitis

Quick answer, stretching certainly can help decrease the resting tension of the inflamed or degenerative tendon.  It is important to note that you need to make sure that your injury is indeed tendonitis.  Stretching is not indicated for tendon tears or ruptures.  You should be properly evaluated prior to starting a stretching program. 

What are the Best Exercises for Tendonitis?

Before you start to exercise for tendonitis to recover your normal function, you must first get rid of the pain and inflammation that is affecting the tendon. Three viable options to accomplish this are acupuncture and physical therapy. 

Acupuncture can help by increasing the blood supply and circulation to the affected tendon. This process promotes the body’s natural pain release of endorphins and serotonin. 

Physical therapy can utilize ultrasound and laser therapy that is proven to reduce pain and inflammation.

Read this ARTICLE to learn exercises for tendonitis in hand.

What’s Next for My Tendonitis Recovery?

After you have calmed down the pain and inflammation the next phase of your treatment can begin. While there are specific, recommended exercises for tendonitis, depending on the part of the body where the tendonitis is active you must think about your recovery in phases of progression.

What Are Exercises for Tendonitis in Hand or Wrist?

The quick answer is that there are several exercises for hand and wrist tendonitis.  It depends how painful it is.  One of the most common types of tendonitis in the hand and wrist is Dequervain's Tenosynovitis.  This is inflammation in the sheath of the tendon on the thumb side of the hand and wrist. 

To stretch this area, grab your thumb with your fingers and bend the wrist toward the pinky finger side.  You feel a stretch along the base of the thumb.  Gently hold 30 seconds and repeat 3x.  Do not push through severe pain. 

Stretching can help symptoms of Dequervain's Tenosynovitis.Stretch for Tenosynovitis



Wrist flexion and extension stretches can help to treat tendonitis in the hand, wrist, and elbow.Wrist extension and flexion stretch

Hold this stretch for wrist flexion and extension 30 seconds, 3x each.  If you have pain, you should stop and see a doctor before continuing.

To learn more hand exercises, visit our page on 4 Top Exercises with Hand Arthritis.

What are the Phases of Progression for My Tendonitis Recovery?

First, you will begin with gentle stretching of the affected tendon. The stretches should be pain-free and held for a minimum of 30 seconds. These stretches should be done daily. As the pain lessens you will progress to a more active stretch regime.


When Do I Start to Strengthen My Muscles with Recovery of Tendonitis?

The quick answer is when you can completely stretch the muscles both passively and actively without pain then strengthening can be initiated. These strength exercises for tendonitis during this phase should be of light resistance with increased repetition. Remember you are gradually trying to reintroduce stress to the tendon without causing re-inflammation. As this process advances you can gradually increase intensity without pain.

When Can I Tell I Am Ready to Get Back to My Normal Exercise/Sport with Tendonitis? 

When you can move the affected joint with tendonitis without pain both actively and passively and you have normal strength at the muscles of the joint. Basically, your everyday use should not bother the joint. There are many specific exercises for each joint of the body affected by tendonitis. It would be highly recommended to seek out the guidance of a physical therapist/occupational therapist to design and progress your program to advance yourself back to your specific sport or exercise activity.

Related Articles:  Learn more about the JOI Foundation and Cervical Tendonitis.

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