Is Stretching Making Your Tendon Pain Worse?
November 30, 2016

Are you suffering from pain in your tendons? Will stretching ease that condition, or could it actually worsen the pain? For that matter, what exactly is a tendon.

The Importance of Your Tendons

Tendons are cords that connect your bones to your muscles, and they’re made of strong fibers. They help to regulate force as well. What does that mean?

  • When your muscles move, they generate force, which your tendons evenly distribute through your bones and other muscles.
  • Your tendons can also store some of that force and use it to aid your muscles in their movements.
  • Thus, tendons make your body more energy-efficient.

Describing Tendon Pain

Pain in the tendons is now called tendinopathy. At one time, it was referred to as tendinitis because experts believed that inflammation always caused the pain. Then, for a time, it was widely termed tendinosis.

Tendinopathy has become the medical community’s preferred label since it’s broader. After all, pain can occur at any point as the tendons degrade, and inflammation isn’t the cause in every case.

The Drawbacks of Stretching

If you have pain in your tendons, you may have heard ― from friends or maybe even from your trainer ― that you should stretch your muscles more often. You might likewise have come across that advice when you were searching the internet for answers.

It’s a common notion that stretching will alleviate muscle tightness, and as a result, pain in the tendons will diminish. It is true that stretching often decreases or eliminates tendon pain for a short period.

Nevertheless, stretching can do long-term harm in some instances. When you stretch, your tendons frequently get pressed against your bones. After a while, the collagen in your tendons can weaken.

Imagine stretching one of your biceps. Doing so extends your shoulder, which squeezes your bicep tendon against your humerus. There are similar consequences when you stretch your thighs, glutes, and calf muscles.

Alternatives to Stretching

Does this mean that you should stop stretching altogether? It’s definitely a matter that you should discuss with your doctor, but the answer is probably not. Stretching can have many benefits.

However, if you’re experiencing tendon pain, doing extra stretching is likely not the ideal solution to your problem. Therefore, it makes sense to seek other forms of relief.

One possible answer is to start doing isometric exercises on a regular basis. And what are those exercises?

  • Isometric exercises involve contracting but not elongating your muscles.
  • When you perform such an exercise, your joints stay at the same angles.
  • Examples of isometric exercises include side bridges and planks.

Another course of action that’s often effective is called self-myofascial release. It’s a kind of massage for your muscles; you can rub different parts of your body against an object like a ball or a foam roller. Doing so should reduce your muscle tension and lessen your tendon pain. At the same time, those movements shouldn’t compress your tendons.