Top Exercises for Tendonitis: Relieving Stiffness and Pain

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Elbow Tendonitis

Doctors often call elbow tendonitis “tennis elbow,” due in part to the way tennis players contract tendonitis. When the elbow makes repetitive movements over and over, the tendon can get irritated and become inflamed. However, tennis players aren’t the only people who suffer from tennis elbow. Many strength trainers get tennis elbow from lifting weights in the same repetitive motions day after day.

So how do you know if you have tennis elbow? Your first clue is that sharp, painful shock that spreads up your arm when you move your elbow or pick up a heavy object. Your elbow might feel swollen, or you might just feel a warm, painful sensation. Either way, you’ll automatically feel like quitting whatever activity you’re doing for the time being.

Dr. Robert Nirschl of recommends doing jumping jacks for three or four minutes to stimulate blood flow before performing the exercises. Then, progressively work through light resistance exercises using hand weights up to two pounds.

Up and Down Tendonitis Exercise: Place a light weight in each hand and bend the arm at the elbow to bring the weight up to the height of your shoulder. Alternate hands while performing this exercise.

Chair Tendonitis Exercise: Sit down on a comfortable chair with an armrest. Place your arm along the armrest such that your hand and wrist hang over the very end. With the small weight in your hand, palm downward, lift the weight up and down slowly. Rotate your hand position so your palms face upward and do the exercise again.

Rubber Band Tendonitis Exercise: Relax your hand so all fingers are together. Place a rubber band around all five fingers and gently extend your fingers away from each other, stretching the rubber band. Contract them back to the original position and perform 10 repetitions of the exercise.

Tendonitis in the Knees

Knee tendonitis, sometimes called patellar tendonitis or jumper’s knee, comes from overusing your knees and often occurs when impact is involved. Sports players, runners, power walkers, and strength trainers often run into this when they do a lot of jumping, running, climbing, lunges, squats or other activity that involves bending the knees or putting pressure against them.

Patients with tendonitis in the knees should perform tendonitis exercises with low impact and subtle movement.

Leg Extensions: recommends lying down and placing a rolled-up towel beneath one thigh. Keep the leg in the air for about five seconds and lower it slowly. Do 10 repetitions each day.

Sitting Exercises: Sit down with your legs straight out in front of you. Tighten your thighs while pushing your knees to the floor (using muscles, not your hands.) Hold this position for a few seconds and release.

Stationary Aerobics: A stationary bicycle is best for tendonitis sufferers who need a little exercise with no impact. Raise the seat high enough so your legs are straight when they stroke downwards on the bike. Your knees shouldn’t feel any impact as you pedal. Pedal for 15-30 minutes each day, or less if your knee cannot tolerate that much time.

Tendonitis in the Foot

Getting tendonitis in your foot is no fun. It impedes your walking ability and pierces pain throughout the entire leg when walked on. It can take several weeks to get rid of foot tendonitis. Here’s some tendonitis exercises for feet to help you accomplish that in less time.

Exercise Band Exercises: Strap a stretchy exercise band to a bed post or table leg. Tie the other end around the bridge of your foot. Stand parallel to the post and extend your leg outward for 10-15 strokes. Turn the other direction and extend your leg inward for another 10-15 strokes. Switch feet and repeat the process.

Draw with Your Foot: Funny as it might sound, drawing the alphabet with your foot is one of the best tendonitis exercises. It forces your foot to stretch in all directions. Sit on a couch or chair and draw the alphabet in the air. It doesn’t matter if you draw capital or lower case letters, as long as you make it from A to Z.


Dr. Robert Nischl, Eaton Hand