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What Are the Causes of Tight Tendons?

author image Bethany Kochan
Bethany Kochan began writing professionally in 2010. She has worked in fitness as a group instructor, personal trainer and fitness specialist since 1998. Kochan graduated in 2000 from Southern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Science in exercise science. She is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer, Medical Exercise Specialist and certified YogaFit instructor.
What Are the Causes of Tight Tendons?
Not stretching after exercise is one cause of tight tendons.

When tendons become tight or inflexible, they can affect your movement, causing discomfort, pain and injury. Every muscle in your body is attached to bone by tendons. Thick fibrous attachments, tendons are continuous with the muscle and connective tissue that surrounds a bone forming a strong union that allows you to move your body. Understanding the causes of tight tendons can help you to perform your regular activities without pain and can help to prevent injuries.

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Repetitive use

Repetitive use or overuse occurs when you perform the same activities day after day. When you do the same movement repeatedly, it can cause stress to your joints and the surrounding tissues, resulting in tight, short tendons. This can occur in anyone, from athletes and manual laborers to office workers and stay-at-home parents.

Postural imbalances

Nobody's posture is perfectly balanced in every position. However, some postural distortions, such as a rounded upper back, are very noticeable and can cause more concerns. Incorrect posture over an extended time can lead to shortened muscles, tight tendons, and possibly, altered movement patterns and pain.

Prior injury

When you have injured a tendon, you compensate by altering your movement patterns as you heal to avoid pain and further trauma. These compensations can become habits and can continue even after you have healed. Scar tissue also can form during the healing process, pulling the injured tissue together and shortening it, causing even more tightness and discomfort.

Inadequate stretching

During exercise, you repeatedly contract and relax your muscles and tendons. If you do not take the time to stretch properly before and after exercise, your tendons will remain shorter and less flexible, causing discomfort, pain and increasing your risk of injury.


As you get older, tendons become less flexible and more prone to injury. Since you can't halt the aging process, maintaining flexibility of your tendons throughout your life is key.

Medical conditions

Certain medical conditions can affect the tendons and their flexibility. These include infection, arthritis, gout, thyroid disease, and diabetes. They can cause pain and inflammation in the whole joint complex, not just the tendon.

Structural variations

You are unique. Your body is not the same as everyone else's, even though you have the same parts. Your tendons may be positioned slightly differently on the bone and this can change their flexibility and movement patterns. The way your body moves and is structured can contribute to tighter tendons.

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  • Bursitis and Tendinitis
  • Sports Injuries
  • Essentials of Strength and Conditioning, National Strength and Conditioning Association, 2008
  • "Stretch to Win"; Ann Frederick and Chris Frederick; 2006
  • "Stretch to Win"; Ann Frederick and Chris Frederick; 2006
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