How to avoid tendon injuries

How to avoid tendon injuries

Learn how to avoid common tendon injuries

Bodybuilding training is based on repetitive movements, movements that can easily put you in an injured position.

The most common are tendonitis and tendinosis and we will show you how you can avoid and treat them.

We know that bodybuilding training is an activity that requires the execution of repetitive movements, and if you want to obtain good results you have to perform those same movements/exercises constantly.

In addition to the need for these same movements to be done regularly, we need to use a significant and sometimes even quite high load and there are also techniques such as going to the muscle failure or drop sets which cause even more damage.

One of the most common injuries we can have in bodybuilding training is tendinopathy, which is a condition that affects the tendon, which can cause chronic pain or even rupture.


Although the term tendinitis is more recognized, tendinopathy is a more comprehensive term, as it encompasses not only tendonitis but also tendinosis or tendon rupture.

Although tendonitis and tendinosis are similar in the way they affect the tendon, there are several differences.

Tendinitis is the result of micro-tears that occur when the muscle-tendon unit is overloaded with a very heavy and/or very sudden tension force and causes inflammation of the tendon.

On the other hand, tendinosis results from continued excessive use of the tendon without giving it rest to recover.

This can lead to degeneration of the tendon's collagen.


This type of injury can originate from a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic factors.

Examples of extrinsic factors: The choice of exercises, the weight used, diet and speed of movement.

Examples of intrinsic factors: Muscle imbalances, lack of flexibility/mobility.

Since several factors can be the cause of tendinopathy, it is important to be aware of its possible causes.

Most common areas

The most common areas for tendinopathy are the supraspinatus of the rotator cuff, the origin of the long head of the biceps in the shoulder, the origin of the wrist extensors and flexors, the patellar tendon and the Achilles tendon.

For those who practice bodybuilding, another critical area is the insertion of the triceps tendon into the elbow in the posterior area.

The most common behavior among bodybuilders is to ignore the pain of tendinopathy and adopt the mentality:

No pain, No gain.

Unfortunately this is not the best time to do this as sore tendons can lead to negative cellular changes.

These changes can make the tendon more susceptible to a more serious injury such as a complete tendon rupture.


How to prevent tendinopathy

  • Before starting weight training, do a brief warm-up on a cardio machine. Something between 5 and 10 minutes on the elliptical is enough to get into the rhythm and raise your body temperature.
  • Do some warm-up exercises for 3 to 5 minutes for the muscles you will work in this training session.
  • Do 1 or 2 sets with light weight in the first exercise of your training. These sets do not count as actual sets but rather as warm-up sets.
  • Stretch the muscles you worked in training at the end of the session.
  • Make sure your training program is balanced between agonist and antagonist muscles. It's not a good idea to do 10 sets of chest and 20 sets of back, unless there is a muscular imbalance.
  • Pay attention to the exercise technique. Poor execution of exercises leads to injuries.
  • Don't fail every series of every exercise in every workout.
  • It gives your muscles adequate rest between workouts. If you did an intense shoulder workout, it's not a good idea to come back the next day and repeat it. Between 48 and 72 hours are recommended for a perfect recovery.
  • Don't ignore the pain, especially if it's persistent pain. The sooner you deal with the problem, the faster the recovery.

When tendinopathy appears, it tends to remain for some time.

It can take from 2 to 3 weeks in mild cases to 4 to 6 months in chronic cases for recovery from 100%.

Although it is not always necessary to stop training completely while treating tendinopathy, it is important to avoid certain exercises that can worsen pain in the affected tendon.


Strategies for treating tendinopathy

Active rest

Rest the tendon by avoiding exercises or activities that cause pain.

This doesn't mean you have to stop training, it means you should focus on other areas of the body, modify certain exercises to be able to perform them without pain or work other muscle groups.

Be careful not to create muscle imbalances!

Biomechanical adjustments

Mechanical overload is normally the origin of tendinopathy.

Poor execution and overloading of a tendon due to muscle imbalances, lack of mobility or muscle misalignments can contribute to this situation.

Correcting these problems can help resolve tendinopathy.


The vasoconstrictive properties of ice are extremely useful in combating the abnormal neovascularization that occurs with tendinopathy and is recommended to treat this problem.


Electrotherapy can stimulate collagen synthesis, thus accelerating recovery from tendinopathy.

Low Energy Shockwave Therapy

This therapy can help stimulate soft tissue healing and inhibit pain receptors.

There is still no conclusive evidence on this method, however, it has shown to be quite promising in some studies.

Support Accessories

Some supports can help reduce the load on a tendon, for example, elbow pads and knee braces/bandages can reduce the load on the wrist or patellar tendon respectively.


Applying deep friction to the tendon for at least 10 minutes after the anesthetizing effect is achieved promotes a reduction in pain, increased strength and mobility.


Vitamin C, manganese, zinc, vitamin B6 and vitamin E can help promote tendon health.

Other supplements that can help are: Glucosamine, chondroitin and fish oil.

Final notes

The use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroid injections for the treatment of tendinopathy is controversial.

In the past, this was the preferred type of treatment, however, there is little evidence to support the effectiveness of this method.

Although these medications offer short-term relief, some studies suggest that these same substances may inhibit tendon repair.

In conclusion, it is much easier to prevent tendonitis or tendinosis than to try to treat it, as this injury can easily worsen.

Use the suggestions given above to protect your body and train safely.

Adapted article.

Original article.


Riley, G. (2008). Tendinopathy?from basic science to treatment. Nature Clinical Practice Rheumatology, 4(2), 82-89. Khan, K., Cook, J., Taunton, J., & Bonar, F. (2000). Overuse tendinosis, not tendinitis part 1: A new paradigm for a difficult clinical problem. Physician and Sportsmedicine, 28(5). Maffulli, N., & Longo, U. (2008). Conservative management for tendinopathy: Is there enough scientific evidence? Rheumatology, 47(4), 390-391. Stasinopoulos, D. (2004). Cyriax Physiotherapy For Tennis Elbow/lateral Epicondylitis. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 38(6), 675-677.

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