We’ve had a few questions about tendonitis lately from people who train other sports extensively. Here’s an excellent article on the subject from fellow CrossFitter Steven Low. Remember we can always substitute or replace an exercise in an area that might be overstressed if you let us know. It’s sometimes frustrating to not be able to do certain things, but it’s always better to get the rest and recovery time rather than aggravate an issue to the point it becomes a severe problem.

How Tendonitis Develops / To the top


Tendonitis is an overuse injury. This condition arises when the volume of the workouts exceed your body’s ability to recover. Since our muscles have better blood supplies than our connective tissue (tendons, ligaments, cartilage) and bones, they often are able to adapt to the stressors of exercise placed on them faster. This leaves our connective tissues and bones vulnerable to overuse since they cannot heal as fast. If excessive stress is placed on them, they start to break down and subequently become inflamed and painful.

There are some alternative applications of how tendonitis develops. For example, for tendonitis of the lateral and medial epicondyles of the elbows there are a lot of muscles that have a common origin (or insertion for other muscles). If the muscles become inflexible and tight then that puts additional stress on the tendon which may not let it heal correctly after exercise. Similarly, our individual muscles have sheaths they slide in against other muscles when they contract. If they are are not moving and sliding correctly it can often recruit multiple muscles that do not need to contract to put additional stress on the tendons as well. This also may not let the tendons heal correctly. The application of prehabilitative and rehabilitative protocols will address all of the above reasons including plain overuse in the next two sections.

Tendonitis starts out as an inflammation injury (-itis is the suffix for any inflammation). If a person continues to work through the injury and pain, it will lead to chronic degeneration. Thus, tendonitis may lead to tendonosis which is characterized by (1) a lack of inflammation, (2) continued degeneration of the tendon, and (3) pain that usually worsens and intensifies.

Once an overuse injury starts to develop, if rest and ice is prescribed right away the body will heal itself because the natural inflammatory processes that arise promote healing. However, if this process is aggravated into a chronic state over weeks and months, then the inflammatory process goes away leading to the chronic degeneration. In these cases, rest and ice may not promote full healing of the injured body part because of the lack of inflammatory healing processes.

Read the full article here.