How Isometric Exercises Can Reduce Tendon Pain

How Isometric Exercises Can Reduce Tendon Pain

Different tendons in your body include : hamstring, Achilles, patellar, and adductor longus. Unless you’re an athlete or regularly exercise, you probably don’t know what these tendons are… that is unless you injured one of them and heard the name from your doctor. That’s one of the worst ways to find out about the existence of that tendon.

There are many tendons in your body and when one becomes injured, it makes you feel miserable and unable to do many of your normal activities. Tendon pain is sometimes long lasting as well. Some people report that they have been having tendon pain for years. One effective way to reduce tendon pain is through isometric muscle contraction exercises. Continue reading to learn about what causes tendon pain, how to relieve tendon pain, how isometric contraction works, and sample exercises to try at home.

What Causes Tendon Pain

What Causes Tendon Pain

Tendon pain can be caused mostly by overuse and overloading, however sudden movements, sprains, injuries, metabolic diseases, and aging may also be the cause. In some cases, it is the result of the way someone is built or how they move. While stretching works to relieve some types of muscular pain, it makes tendon pain worse. You may also find it difficult to move because of pain.

People over the age of 55 may suffer from tendon pain as their tendons start losing elastin as they near their sixth decade.The collagen in their tendons also breaks down as they age, resulting in microscopic tears. The body has trouble healing tears due to a slowdown of blood circulation from aging.

Before you become affected with tendinopathy, which is the inevitable outcome of untreated tendon pain, there are many exercises you can do to improve blood circulation and strengthen your tendons. It is a good idea to exercise and keep your body healthy before you hit 50, and if you’re already there, then it’s never too late to start a workout routine.

How to Relieve Tendon Pain

Upon injury of the tendon, you should not rest the affected body part or take painkillers as is often recommended . On the contrary, you should strengthen the tendon with a progressive intelligent loading approach using isometric contractions to varied load. You might need physical therapy if your symptoms do not improve after a week or two.

During the resting period, make sure to get enough sleep, avoid activities that cause pain, and only exercise in ways that don’t stress the injured area. Wear a splint or brace to provide extra support to your injured tendon. This will also help prevent you from moving the afflicted area too much. It can also help the tendon heal faster and reduce inflammation.

Use isometric exercises to strengthen the surrounding muscles without aggravating the tendon, to speed up the healing process. It’s less expensive than physical therapy to do the exercises at home without assistance. However, you should still confirm with your doctor that the exercises you plan on doing are right for your type of injury. Remember that a little pain after exercising a tendinopathic tendon is normal.

Continue taking it easy after the pain stops, to prevent it from returning. You’ll have to give it a few weeks of rest after the pain goes away in order to fully recover. Just because the tendon pain is gone does not mean the tendon has completely healed. Athletes and other active people are eager to get back in the swing of their exercise routines after the pain disappears, but this is a mistake. They usually have to go through the process all over again, thus extending the overall time it takes to recover

Where Does Isometric Muscle Contraction Occur?

Where Does Isometric Muscle Contraction Occur?

Isometric muscle contraction involves muscle tension without joint movement or a change in muscle length. Isometric contractions are a static exercise. The fibers in your muscle are tensed without change in length of the sarcomeres.

A good example of an isometric exercise that most people are familiar with is a plank. Even though your muscles are working hard to hold you in position, the exercise does not cause a change in muscle length or joint angles.

Muscle fiber activations occur when the brain signals a muscle fiber or group of fibers to fire and increase tension in the muscle. The contraction takes place in the individual sarcomeres inside the myofibrils, which are smaller structures contained within bundles of muscle fibers.

Benefits of Isometric Muscle Contraction Exercises

Benefits of Isometric Muscle Contraction Exercises

isometric muscle contraction exercises are used in rehabilitation and for strengthening the muscles without stressing the joints. This is great for people who have diseased or injured joints, or who can’t work out in the traditional way for whatever reason. However, you shouldn’t rely solely on isometric exercise to stay healthy after your tendon has healed. They are only effective for strengthening the muscles at the joint angle held while doing the exercise. You will eventually need to include concentric and eccentric muscle contractions. Isometric exercises are intended to aid in recovery and increase isometric strength.

Additionally, several sports require static strength. Examples of sports in which isometric muscle strength is important are gymnastics, rock climbing, yoga and downhill skiing. They also require a lot of joint movement, but if you increase your static strength, it will ease the pressure on your joints.

Studies That Show Isometric Exercises Reduce Tendon Pain

A study published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that isometric exercise reduces pain and helps the patellar tendon heal. Eccentric exercises, in contrast, were painful and ineffective for helping the patellar tendon recover. Isometric exercises showed an immediate improvement on the patellar tendon. Researchers checked how much tendon pain the participants felt directly after the isometric exercises and 45 minutes afterwards. They still felt relief from the pain 45 minutes later.

Exercises for Reducing Tendon Pain

Exercises for Reducing Tendon Pain

There are many isometric exercises that can decrease tendon pain, but you should consult a physical therapist before trying them. Do the exercises that treat the specific type of tendon pain you’re having. For instance, people with Achilles tendon pain should use isometric exercises for the feet, ankles, and calves. Here are a few isometric exercises you can try, depending on which body part hurts:

Isometric shoulder flexion – Stand facing the wall and place a towel between your fist and the wall. Keep your elbow bent at a 90° angle and GENTLY press your fist against the towel. You don’t need to push into the wall as hard as you can. If an isometric exercise hurts, you’re either doing it wrong or too intensely.

Isometric elbow flexion – Sit straight in a chair and plant your hands under the table or desk in front of you. Gently lift your hands just enough to feel the activation of your biceps.
Isometric quads – Lie down on your back with your legs straight. Using your quad muscles, push your knee down.
Isometric exercise for the Achilles’ tendon – Sit in a chair facing the wall and rest the ball of your foot against the wall. Gently push with your foot.

Isometric exercises are one of the best ways to reduce tendon pain, speed up recovery, and prevent re-injury to the tendon. They are easy and quick to do as well. You usually don’t need any special equipment; the most you’ll need for some of the exercises is a towel or band.

Anyone can suffer from tendon pain, whether it’s a result of aging, injury or disease. It’s wise to maintain a good workout routine and healthy diet. Even if you still suffer from tendon pain, you will recover easier.

What if isometric exercises have not helped you?

Come into our tendon pain clinic for our specialized tendon recovery program.

Our integrative and comprehensive examination includes:

  • Diagnostic musculoskeletal ultrasonography
  • 3D motion analysis with C.A.R.E.N ( computer assisted rehabilitation environment)
  • Sonoelastography
  • Force plate jumping and load distribution assessment
  • KINEO intelligent load assessment
  • Surface electromyography
  • 3D instrumented gait analysis
  • Proteus shoulder assessment
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Treatment options:

  • ESWT ( extracorporeal shockwave therapy)
  • Tendon specific physical therapy utilizing ground breaking technology
  • Ultrasound guided injections
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In this instance, an athlete was originally diagnosed with minor quadriceps muscle strain and was treated for four weeks, with unsatisfactory results. When he came to our clinic, the muscle was not healing, and the patients’ muscle tissue had already begun to atrophy.

Upon examination using MSUS, we discovered that he had a full muscle thickness tear that had been overlooked by his previous provider. To mitigate damage and promote healing, surgery should have been performed immediately after the injury occurred. Because of misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment, the patient now has permanent damage that cannot be corrected.

The most important advantage of Ultrasound over MRI imaging is its ability to zero in on the symptomatic region and obtain imaging, with active participation and feedback from the patient. Using dynamic MSUS, we can see what happens when patients contract their muscles, something that cannot be done with MRI. From a diagnostic perspective, this interaction is invaluable.

Dynamic ultrasonography examination demonstrating
the full thickness tear and already occurring muscle atrophy
due to misdiagnosis and not referring the patient
to proper diagnostic workup

Demonstration of how very small muscle defect is made and revealed
to be a complete tear with muscle contraction
under diagnostic sonography (not possible with MRI)

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Complete tear of rectus femoris
with large hematoma (blood)

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Separation of muscle ends due to tear elicited
on dynamic sonography examination

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