How Do I Work Out With Tendinitis?

Working out with tendinitis is challenging, and you may need to adjust your workout to avoid re-injury. Stretches and exercises for tendinitis in your shoulder, elbow or other joints may help speed your recovery.

Rest and ice your joints if you have tendinitis. (Image: AndreyPopov/iStock/GettyImages)


If you have tendinitis, you need to rest the affected joint; however, you can still do exercises for the rest of your body. Some stretches for the affected tendons may help speed recovery, but consult your doctor to avoid risking further damage.

Tendons are the binders, like cords, that hold muscles and bones together to allow you to move normally. When a tendon becomes inflamed, the condition is called tendinitis. Tendinitis can occur in many parts of your body and is common in your elbow and shoulder and is usually the result of overuse from a repeated motion or overload from lifting too much too soon.

Working Out With Tendinitis

With proper diagnosis and treatment, tendinitis may be resolved within a few days or weeks, advises Harvard Health Publishing. Be sure to rest the affected area to allow the tendons time to heal. If you continue to exercise the affected joint, tendinitis may worsen and last for months.

Your doctor may also recommend applying ice to reduce swelling and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications. In more severe cases, the joint may need to be splinted to hold it immobile, and your doctor may recommend corticosteroid injections in the joint. Surgery is rarely required but may be necessary if there is severe damage to your tendon.


While tendinitis is usually caused by overuse and often treated at home, be sure to consult your doctor if you suspect you have tendinitis. In rare cases, tendinitis may be caused by an infection such as gonorrhea that may need additional medical treatment, advises Harvard Health Publishing.

While you want to avoid exercises that cause pain or aggravate your tendinitis, you can still stay active by selecting your activities carefully. If you have tendinitis in your elbow, for example, you can still do cardio such as running and exercises for your lower body such as squats and lunges. Avoid using weights that may stress your joints.

Exercises for Tendinitis

While rest is generally best to treat tendinitis, your doctor may recommend certain exercises or stretches to maintain joint mobility and increase blood flow to the joint to speed healing. These exercises may also prevent tendinitis if you engage in an activity that involves repetitive motion that may lead to tendinitis such as tennis, swimming or typing.

For example, try extensor and flexor exercises for tendinitis in the wrist and hand. To do the wrist extensor stretch:

  1. Bend your elbow and hold one hand at chest level.
  2. Use your other hand to bend your wrist downward.
  3. Repeat the movement with a straight elbow.

To perform the wrist flexor stretch, simply pull the hand back gently. Your doctor or physical therapist may also recommend strengthening exercises in addition to stretching. For example, exercises for tendinitis in the elbow may include forearm rotations:

  1. Sit and rest your arm on a table with your elbow bent at 90 degrees.
  2. Grasp a light weight or an object such as a hammer with your palm facing up.
  3. Slowly rotate your forearm until your palm is facing down.
  4. Return to the starting position.

Do not perform these exercises if you are experiencing pain. The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center recommends applying heat for approximately 10 minutes prior to exercising to loosen the joints and muscles and applying ice for 10 to 15 minutes after exercising to reduce swelling.

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