According to the MayoClinic, "Tendinitis is inflammation or irritation of a tendon," which is a fibrous cord that attaches a muscle to the bone. Tendinitis is often caused by excessive or repetitive movements or sudden injuries, causing pain and stiffness in the affected area. Examples of tendinitis include tennis elbow, swimmer's shoulder and runner's knee. Yoga can be an effective way to heal inflamed tendons and prevent future bouts of tendinitis.
A specifically tailored yoga practice can help with the symptoms of tendinitis, as it helps improve blood flow and energizes your body's lymphatic system. Recovery from tendinitis occurs in three major stages, and you can use yoga to help alongside a conventional physical therapy program or consultation from a physician. A well-designed recovery plan that includes yoga can greatly reduce your risk of chronic pain or need for surgery, which no one wants to deal with.
The first step to recovery is to get ample and complete rest. Yoga teacher Roger Cole says you should rest for at least 72 hours after the initial injury. The resting time will allow your body to get rid of the damaged tissue and produce cells for regenerating new capillaries and collagen. Don't apply heat to the affected area; rather, ice for 20 minutes at a time to prevent or reduce swelling and inflammation. Lying down and elevating the affected area will also help reduce swelling.
The next step is to introduce a very gentle range of motions and simple, modified yoga poses for strengthening and aligning the newly forming connective tissue. When performed correctly, these poses should create the right amount of tension to allow the healing tendon to regain strength and flexibility. Practice the poses gently, as over-stretching or bearing too much weight on the affected area can cause a backlash in recuperation. Perform modified poses and gentle practices for six weeks after the initial healing stage.
Stretching and Strengthening
A longer, muscle-lengthening stage will follow next to strengthen and stretch the area around the injured tendon. According to Roger Cole, the poses that involve the affected area can gradually be shifted from very modified versions, to medium modified versions and eventually to full poses. This allows correctly aligned muscle growth to develop around the injured area, preventing future risk of tendinitis. Roger Cole also says to perform poses in modified versions if you experience any pain when trying to move into full stretching poses, which can take several months to attain after a tendinitis injury.
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