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How to Prevent a Tendon Injury in Your Yoga Practice

With an increasing number of people practicing yoga it is estimated that more than 50 percent of yoga-related injuries are due to injury from strains and sprains. Injuries to the connective tissues of the tendons and ligaments can result in inflammation, chronic pain, and loss of function.

Tendinitis and tendonosis are commonly diagnosed in those who are physically active or perform repetitive movements. The most common regions of the body prone to tendon injury are the wrists, shoulders, knees, and ankles.

If you have ever experienced increased pain, tenderness, and inflammation in any of these areas during or after your yoga practice, there is a good chance that you could be progressing toward tendon injury if preventative action is not taken.

Tendinitis

Tendinitis means inflammation of the tendon and the sheath surrounding it. The most common result is repetitive motion injury (RMI), which occurs when a muscle or muscle group has been over-used during physical activity or repetitive movements without a proper period of rest or recovery.

Common symptoms of tendinitis are localized swelling, warmth and possible redness, as well as pain. The most common and one of the first signs of a tendon injury is pain and inflammation. Tendinitis is typically diagnosed by a physician, surgeon or a physical therapist.

The recommended treatment for tendinitis includes rest, icing the affected area, and taking over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID). Recovery time for tendinitis can take several weeks and modification to certain activities may be necessary in order to reduce the reoccurrence of tendinitis.

Tendonosis

Tendonosis occurs when the tendon fails to heal from repetitive trauma to the tendon tissue. Repetitive microtraumas inhibit collagen fibers from settling with correct alignment and linking together. This can result in loss of strength and extensibility in the tissues, further progressing the injury.

The major difference between tendinitis and tendonosis is inflammation, which is generally not present when you’re dealing with something such as tendonosis. Each require different methods of treatment, therefore, it’s important to know the difference between the two. This can make a huge difference when you’re trying to avoid further injury or loss of function.

What’s the difference?

Tendinitis responds best to the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation) to decrease inflammation and pain. It can also benefit from the use of anti-inflammatory medicines, injections and physical therapy to correct muscular imbalance and improve biomechanics. Tendinitis will typically heal in six weeks, if the proper precautions are taken and there is compliance with your treatment plan.

However, tendonosis does not respond well to anti-inflammatory medicines or injections. These medicines actually inhibit collagen repair which can further delay healing. The average healing time for tendonosis can range from three to six months, but as many studies have shown, it can take more than 100 days for an injured tissue to rebuild collagen.

The best course of action to promote healing is to reduce stress on the tendon injury with rest and icing, correcting biomechanics through physical therapy, and if necessary immobilizing (bracing) the injured area to eliminate undue stress.

Tendonosis can sometimes occur with the use of fluoroquinolone class of antibiotics such as ciprofloxin and levafloxin. The most common area affected is the Achilles tendon, however, other tendons in the body may become affected overtime.

What can I do to prevent this?

If you notice an area of your body begins to feel swollen, tender, warm, or painful during your practice, STOP! Don’t push yourself. Repetitive strain only makes it worse.

Apply RICE Method (rest, ice, compression, elevate) after the activity and don’t forget to rest. This is the most important component of healing, along with consistent icing to decrease inflammation and pain.

Ice massage or ice cupping, is one of the best methods of cryotherapy because it’s the fastest way to decrease localized inflammation. However, you must take precaution to avoid the risk of frostbite or cold intolerance.

Muscle rubs or lotions containing essential oils such as peppermint, wintergreen, frankincense, or camphor can also help to decrease pain and inflammation. Visit your doctor or physical therapist in order to be properly diagnosed and treated.

For more, check out my video on ice massages and how to safely apply it to any inflamed or painful area of the body:

Tristan Gatto
Tristan Gatto

Tristan Martin Gatto, PTA, RYT 200, is a resident teacher and educator at Yoga Den in Jacksonville, Florida. Tristan is an educator for Yoga Den’s 200-hour and 300-hour teacher training programs with close focus on anatomy, alignment, and safety. He is a licensed Physical Therapist Assistant in the state of Florida. Tristan is a featured writer in yoga anatomy for beYogi.com and is currently an ambassador for lululemon. He is a native of Buffalo, New York, and is a former professional vocalist and dancer with over 10 years of experience. He has performed on Carnival Cruise Lines, toured out of Nashville, Tennessee, entertained in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and Branson, Missouri, and also taught various styles of dance for several years. He lives by the motto, “Solid body, solid mind.”

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