Using Massage to Manage Tendonitis

Nov 25, 2019

Massage therapy has been proven to be a great alternative to traditional pain management. For people suffering from tendonitis, it can help with pain relief and speed up the recovery process. Since tendonitis can take weeks to heal, using a massage therapy program to both relax and strengthen the inflamed tendon can give the sufferer a better chance of a full and speedy recovery.

What is tendonitis?

Tendons are bands of strong connective tissue within a person’s body that attach muscles to bones. Tendonitis occurs when a tendon becomes inflamed or irritated. Someone suffering from tendonitis will commonly feel it in their neck, elbows, biceps, wrists, knees, or Achilles.

Inflammation of a tendon is usually caused by overuse. For example, when a tennis player regularly uses their arms to hit the ball, they may develop tendonitis in their shoulders, elbows or wrists. Overuse causes the tendon to repeatedly strain until tiny tears start to form. Other causes of tendonitis may include lifting heavy weights, improper form when exercising, not allowing for adequate recovery time between exercising, and anatomical issues such as calcium deposits forming around the tendon or an abnormal joint or bone.

Symptoms of tendonitis can include:

  • Tenderness
  • Pain
  • Swelling or lumpiness around the affected area
  • Stiffness or restricted mobility
  • Muscle weakness
  • Warmth of the skin around the affected area
  • A grating sensation as the tendon moves.

How massage can manage tendonitis

Treatment for tendonitis generally includes rest, icing, discontinuation of heavy lifting or any movement that caused the tenderness in the first place, as well as the use of anti-inflammatory medicines.

Alongside these traditional treatment solutions, massage therapy is also becoming a common and effective mode of treatment for tendonitis. This is because the act of massage targets and works the injured tendon fibres and surrounding muscle tissue. This loosens muscles and boosts blood circulation and healthy collagen in and around the affected area.

Chronic tendonitis can greatly affect a person’s movement, comfort and quality of life, which can lead to increased stress and depression. Massage therapy can not only ease the physical pain associated with tendonitis, but it can also help to reduce any emotional pain too by relaxing and calming a person’s nervous system and encouraging the release of feel-good hormones. There are many different types of massage out there, but the best ones for tendonitis include the following:

Sports massage

Sports massage therapy is an effective way of managing and treating the pain caused by tendonitis. It’s particularly ideal for those experiencing tendonitis in the heel or Achilles. Sports massage combines different forms of massage and muscle manipulation to stretch and stimulate the muscles. It can treat tendonitis by applying sustained pressure and friction to the tendon to improve pain and mobility.

Deep transverse friction massage (DTFM)

With a DTFM massage, a qualified massage therapist will use short back and forth motions with their fingers around the affected area, rather than over it. This type of active release technique is a soft tissue management treatment used to repair scarred tissue and abrasions, and restore mobility.

Deep tissue massage

Deep tissue massage may be one of the best massage styles for treating tendonitis. It combines firm pressure and slow strokes to reach the deep layers of muscle and fascia, treating chronic pain. This technique enhances circulation and breaks up scar tissue, which can also reduce swelling.

How to find the right massage therapist for tendonitis

If your tendonitis is chronic or persistent, you may benefit from massage therapy. But a word of caution; it’s best to avoid booking a massage within 48 hours after the initial onset of the injury, as this could exacerbate your condition. It’s also important to know that massage therapy should be used as a complementary treatment to traditional treatments for tendonitis. You’ll achieve the best results with a combined pain management program of rest, icing, pain relief and massage therapy.

Finding the right massage therapist for tendonitis requires research. You need to find a therapist that’s qualified in massage therapy, and who has expertise in the field of sports massage therapy or dealing with injuries. A qualified massage therapist should be willing to discuss treatment goals as well as an ongoing treatment program to help you increase strength and range of motion in the affected tendon, preventing further injury and inflammation.

Seek expert treatment for tendonitis

Treatment for tendonitis requires the expertise of a qualified massage therapist, like those who have qualifications from completing courses with Discover Massage Australia. A qualified massage therapist has knowledge of the right massage techniques to treat tendonitis, and the ability to develop a pain management program for your long-term health and wellbeing. Alternatively, learn massage online with our new online massage course.

Cameron Aubrey

Cameron Aubrey has over 20 years experience in the massage industry, and leads the team as Course Director at Discover Massage Australia. Cameron holds a Diploma in Remedial Massage, and his expertise runs across a large range of massage techniques, particularly sports, Swedish and whole body massage.