Even though it isn't just athletes who are affected, many of them suffer or have previously suffered from tendinitis. Often lengthy to heal and difficult to prevent, it is the bane of athletes who train intensively.


To try to avoid it, you must first understand what tendinitis is, which muscles it can affect and what its symptoms and causes are. Explanations.


What is tendinitis?

The tendon is the fibrous part that links the muscle to the bone. It is encased in a sheath in which it slides. This sliding is aided by a lubricant, synovia, secreted by the sheath. Tendinitis is a musculoskeletal disorder and is characterised by inflammation of the tendon and its sheath. This inflammation makes the tendon painful and affects everyday actions.


Our bodies contain many tendons, the majority of which never become inflamed. However, the tendons of certain muscles are more commonly affected by tendinitis:

  • the carpal tunnel muscles (wrist)
  • the muscles of the elbow, leading to "tennis elbow" or "golfer's elbow"
  • the muscles of the musculotendinous cuff (shoulders)
  • the calcaneal tendon (Achilles tendon)
  • the tensors of the fascia lata (knees), leading to patellar tendinitis
  • the muscles of the goose's foot (knees), particularly among cyclists
  • the quadriceps


What are the symptoms of tendinitis?

Tendinitis can be identified from the pain felt when the tendon is touched or when the muscle for this tendon is tensed, from the bumpy feeling of movements and from pain caused by the changing weather. Sometimes the skin over the inflammation is red and warm to the touch.


The pain felt varies depending on the severity of the tendinitis:

  • type 1 tendinitis: pain appears when you start to use the tendon but disappears when it moves
  • type 2 tendinitis: the pain persists and increases during exercise
  • type 3 tendinitis: the pain is present even when not exercising, affects everyday actions and prevents training.


What are the causes of tendinitis?

Tendinitis can be caused by several different things which can often be avoided. The most common causes are overuse and / or unusual use of the tendon and an irregularity in the tendon due to a pull or partially ruptured tendons. In both cases, the tendon rubs against its sheath, leading to irritation and the death of several cells.


However, other causes can lead to varying degrees of tendinitis:

  • poor natural vascularisation of the tendons
  • strain
  • joints out of position
  • insufficient warming up
  • slight deformity
  • large impacts from falls or bumps
  • repeated movements
  • infections (dental, for example)
  • using unsuitable equipment (shoes without cushioning…)


Finally, tendinitis can be caused by incorrect nutrition. It can result from poor hydration, a high level of uric acid in the blood (this being removed by urine, hence the importance of good hydration), too much sugar which harms the removal of uric acid, or excessive consumption of certain foods containing histamine (tomatoes, avocados, spinach, potatoes, cabbages, sausage, tuna, certain cheeses…).


How can you prevent tendinitis?

  • Warm up gradually for at least 10 minutes.
  • If you take up a new sport, take a few lessons in a specialised club or with the help of a coach to acquire the right technique.
  • Kit yourself out correctly for the sport you're doing. It is particularly important that you have the right shoes to avoid tendinitis.
  • Recover after exercise by stretching thoroughly.
  • Drink plenty before, during and after exercise.
  • Take breaks, whatever the sport or activity you're doing.


How do you heal tendinitis?

It is important to consult a doctor as soon as you start feeling an unusual pain. Poorly treated tendinitis can lead to complications, and can become persistent if the tendon and sheath stick to each other. In this case, it strongly diminishes mobility of the muscles affected.


The best way of healing tendinitis is to rest the painful tendon. It must be completely immobilised for several weeks. Ice can relieve the pain but it should not be applied to the inflamed tendon for more than 20 minutes in a row. Your doctor can also prescribe you painkillers or physiotherapy sessions. Steroid injections are also effective in treating tendinitis short-term.


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