How Isometric Exercises Can Reduce Tendon Pain

How Isometric Exercises Can Reduce Tendon Pain Blog  Tendon Pain Physical therapy

Different tendons in your body include hamstring, Achilles, patellar, and adductor. 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 have reported that they’ve been having tendon pain for years. An 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 example exercises to try at home.

What Causes Tendon Pain

Tendon pain can be caused by overuse, sudden movements, sprains, injuries, diseases, disorders, and aging. In some cases, it’s a result of the way someone is built or how they move. Fibromyalgia is an example of a disorder that has tendon pain as a symptom. While stretching works to relieve some types of muscular pain, it makes tendon pain worse. You’ll find it difficult to move because of pain.

People over the age of 50 may suffer from pain as their tendons degenerate. The collagen in their tendons breaks down as they age, resulting in microscopic tears. The body has trouble healing the tears due to the slow down of blood circulation from aging.

Before you become scared that it’s inevitable everyone will suffer from tendon pain, there are many exercises you can do to improve blood circulation and strengthen your body. It’s 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

If you landed on this article, you’re most likely already suffering from tendon pain. Upon injury of the tendon, you should rest the affected body part and take painkillers if the pain is too much. If there’s inflammation around the tendon, taking a NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) painkiller to reduce the swelling and pain. You might need physical therapy if your symptoms don’t improve after a week.

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. For the first three days of tendon pain, you should ice the painful area 10-15 minutes every hour. If ice makes your pain worse, however, don’t use it.

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 help the tendon heal faster and reduce inflammation too.

Use isometric exercises to strengthen the surrounding muscles without aggravating the tendon and hasten the healing process. It’s cheaper than physical therapy as you can 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.

Continue taking it easy a while 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 doesn’t 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?

Isometric muscle contraction is a type of muscle contraction that doesn’t move the joint. The muscle neither lengthens nor contracts, although the muscle is still being tensed. Isometric contractions are a static exercise. How can an exercise be static? The fibers in your muscle activate.

To gain a better understanding of what an isometric muscle contraction is, stand up and push your hands against the wall, or just one hand if your other one is in pain. Although you’re not moving while pushing against the wall, you feel your muscles being utilized.

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 myofibrils, which are smaller structures contained within bundles of muscle fibers.

Benefits of Isometric Muscle Contraction Exercises

What’s the use of isometric muscle contraction exercises? They are used in rehabilitation and for strengthening the muscles without stressing the joints. This is great for people who have bad joints or 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 limited to specific spots based on the position you’re in while doing the exercise. You’ll only gain so much strength this way before needing 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 moving, 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.

Example Exercises for Reducing Tendon Pain

There are many isometric exercises that can decrease tendon pain, but you should have consulted a physical therapist before try it. 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 in your biceps.

Isometric quads – Lie down on your back with your legs straight out. 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 injury to the tendon from occurring again. 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. Therefore, it’s wise to maintain a good workout routine and healthy diet. Even if you still suffer from tendon pain, you will recover easier.

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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)


Complete tear of rectus femoris
with large hematoma (blood)


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

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