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Risk Factors for Developing a Tendon Injury

Risk Factors for Developing a Tendon Injury


A tendon injury may occur along the tendon itself, to the tendon sheath or at the tendon origin or insertion. Often referred to by the umbrella term of tendinopathy, individuals with this kind of injury will often experience pain, stiffness and loss of strength in the affected area.

There are numerous reasons as to why these types of injuries occur. These tendon injuries are commonly found in athletes and if your job requires repetitive movement.

What is a tendon injury?

A tendon injury refers to the irritation and sometimes, inflammation of the tough, fibrous connective tissues that attach muscle to bone. These injuries generally occur near a joint. When too much load and pressure is applied to a joint, it can cause micro tears to occur in the tendon. These micro tears cause damage and degeneration to the tendon. This, if not given the appropriate recovery time, will lead to a chronic tendon injury.

Tendon injuries are found in the wrist, shoulder, elbow, knee and heel tendons.

Risk factors that attribute to tendon injuries

There are many risk factors that can lead to the onset of a tendon injury. The most common of those are age, occupation and repetitive strain due to a sporting activity.

  • Age – As people age, their tendons become less flexible and gradually lose their elasticity making them easier to injure. In other words, individuals over the age of 40 are more susceptible to developing tendinopathy injuries. This is due to lack of strength and control around a joint.
  • Occupation – Individuals whose occupation may include any of the following are likely to suffer a tendon injury: heavy lifting, awkward positions, overhead reaching or forceful exertion. These occupations require individuals to carry out repetitive motions. These motions are on a frequent basis. This can cause muscles to fatigue more rapidly meaning there is less joint control and support, and increased loading of the tendon.
  • Repetitive strain – Many athletes who participate in sports such as basketball, golf, swimming or tennis are likely to develop a tendon injury especially if their technique isn’t optimal. Sports that involve running, jumping or repetitive, high load movements can increase an individual’s risk of injuring joints and tendons.

What preventative measures can you take?

Although the likelihood of injuring is quite high, you can take preventative measures to decrease this risk.

If starting a new sport or activity, allow for rest days and time to recover. As well as gradually increasing the intensity at which you play certain sports e.g. golf/running. Working on your strength and endurance over time will help to condition your joints, muscles and tendons to increased loads of stress and improve joint control as you move. Tight muscles will naturally pull on a tendon more. Make sure to warm up correctly and perform gentle dynamic stretches before, and more static exercises after activity.

If you are participating in a sporting activity or occupation that requires high load and force repetitive movements, try to allow rest days to assist muscle recovery. If you feel that your muscles and tendons are weak, light resistance training and balance work concentrating can be beneficial. You can ensure all target muscles are optimised when you do weight training.

And lastly, it is important to never ignore any pain being experienced. Here at Ballsbridge Physiotherapy Clinic, our physiotherapists can assess your injury and prescribe you with an appropriate treatment plan to manage your injury. Treatments such as dry needling, soft tissue massage and joint mobilisation can be very beneficial in treating tendon injuries. If you would like to book an appointment or find out more about tendon injuries, contact us here.

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