How to prevent tendon injuries

How to prevent tendon injuries

Learn to avoid the most common tendon injuries

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

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

We know that weight training is an activity that requires repetitive movements, and if you want to get good results you have to perform those same movements / exercises constantly.

In addition to the need for these same movements to be done on a regular basis, we need to use a significant load and sometimes even quite high muscle failure or drop sets that do even more damage.

One of the most common injuries that 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, since it encompasses not only tendinitis but also tendinosis or tendon rupture.

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

Tendonitis is the result of micro-ruptures that occur when the muscle-tendinous 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 a continuous overuse of the tendon without giving it the rest to recover.

This can lead to collagen degeneration of the tendon.


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

Examples of extrinsic factors: Choice of exercises, weight used, diet and speed of movement.

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

Since several factors can be at the origin 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 bicipete on the shoulder, the origin of the wrist extensors and flexors, the rotulian tendon and the achilles tendon.

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

The most common behavior for bodybuilders is to ignore the pain of tendinopathy and adopt the mindset:

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 more serious injury such as a complete tear of the tendon.


How to prevent tendinopathy

  • Before starting weight training, do a brief warm-up on a cardio machine. Anything from 5 to 10 minutes on the elliptical is enough to get in the rhythm and raise your body temperature.
  • Do some warm-up exercises for 3 to 5 minutes for the muscles you are going to work on in that training session.
  • Do 1 or 2 sets with little weight in the first exercise of the training. These series do not count as effective series, but as heating series.
  • Stretch the muscles you worked on at the end of the session.
  • Make sure your training program is balanced between agonistic and antagonistic muscles. It is not a good idea to do 10 sets of chest and 20 sets of back, unless there is a muscle imbalance.
  • Pay attention to the exercise technique. The poor execution of the exercises leads to the appearance of injuries.
  • Don't miss the failure in all sets of all exercises in all workouts.
  • Give your muscles adequate rest between workouts. If you have done an intense workout for your shoulders, it is not a good idea to come back the next day to repeat it. They are recommended between 48 to 72 hours for a perfect recovery.
  • Do not ignore the pain, much less if it is a persistent pain. The sooner you address the problem, the faster the recovery.

When tendinopathy arises, 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 a recovery to 100%.

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


Strategies for treating tendinopathy

Active rest

Rest the tendon avoiding exercises or activities that cause pain.

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

Be careful not to create muscle imbalances!

Biomechanical adjustments

Mechanical overload is usually the source of tendinopathy.

Poor performance and overload 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 to stimulate soft tissue healing and inhibition of pain receptors.

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

Support Accessories

Some supports can help to decrease the load on a tendon, such as, for example, elbow pads and knee / bandages can decrease the load on the wrist or rotulean tendon respectively.


The application of a deep friction on 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 non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and injections of corticosteroids to treat tendinopathy is controversial.

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

Although these drugs offer short-term relief, some studies suggest that these same substances can 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 get worse.

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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