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Pushups & Tendinitis

author image Lindsay Kent
Lindsay Kent began writing professionally in 2009, appearing first at ProTrainer Online. She is a Certified Personal Trainer and a Certified Specialist in Fitness Nutrition. Kent graduated summa cum laude from the University of West Georgia with a bachelor's degree in English and received various accolades and scholarships from the Institute of English.
Pushups & Tendinitis
Proper form is important to avoid injury. Photo Credit yacobchuk/iStock/Getty Images

Tendinitis is an injury experienced by athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike, and is treated with rest and medication. In some cases, if tendinitis is left untreated, the tendon can rupture, which would require surgery, so a proper diagnosis and treatment plan is important. Knowing what activities and movements exacerbate this problem is imperative for remedying this injury.

Tendinitis Defined

Tendinitis is often referred to as golfer's elbow, tennis elbow or swimmer's shoulder, obviously depending on the area of inflammation. Other common areas of inflammation include the wrists and heels. Specifically, tendinitis refers to the irritation or inflammation of the tendons that attach muscles to bones. Tendons are thick and rope-like, providing structure and mobility, so pain is felt acutely in the body if there is an issue or inflammation.

Muscles Utilized

Tendinitis is often the result of a repetitive movement or motion, especially in your exercise program. Pushups utilize your body weight as resistance, and engage many different muscles, but the weight of your body is primarily focused on the arms and shoulders, placing a great deal of stress on the tendons that surround the bicep, tricep, shoulder and forearm muscles. The core area and lower back are also stimulated during the pushup, so keeping both of these areas strong will help to evenly distribute your body weight during the pushup movement, and will also alleviate some of the stress experienced by the tendons in your arms and shoulders.

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Proper Form

Proper form and technique will also help to combat tendinitis and with pushups, body alignment is key. Your body should be in a plank position, with your arms a little wider than shoulder-width apart, and your abdominals should be pulled in -- think of touching your navel to your spine -- to help stabilize and align your pelvis. Lower yourself to the ground as far as you can go, with the intended goal of touching your chest to the ground for full range of motion. Exhale as you lift your body back to the starting position. This is the basic pushup, and should be mastered with perfect form before you move on to more advanced variations of this move.


Some variations to the basic pushup can help beginners or those struggling with tendinitis pain to continue, although if pain is extreme, the movement should cease until the injury is repaired and you have clearance from your doctor. Instead of aligning your body in a plank position, you can take some of your body weight off your arms by keeping your knees on the ground with your feet lifted in the air as you lower yourself to the ground. You can also purchase bars or handles that have grips for your hands, so your wrists are not flat on the ground absorbing all your body weight. This device particularly helps with those who experience wrist and forearm tendinitis.

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