Before about 1998, most tendon treatment revolved around stretching, icing, rest and ant-inflammatory medication. We don’t do any of those four things now (with a few exceptions) – how things have changed! Tendinopathy is the word we now use to describe tendon injuries – ‘tendinitis’ has been thrown away as the ‘-itis’ refers to inflammation – and it has been shown that tendons do not truly get inflamed.
So why not stretch tendinopathies? Most tendon injuries occur where the tendon attaches to the bone, the tendon wraps around the bone. The below picture shows the achiiles tendon (in light pink) wrapping around the heel bone (Cormick, 2010):
Stretching causes the tendon to be compressed against the bone and can make the tendon WORSE. This applies to tendinopathies at the hamstring, elbow (Tennis Elbow), adductor (groin), shoulder, knee and also to plantar fasciitis.
Also, no matter how much you stretch the tendon, it will not stretch more than about 2% - and this doesn’t make it heal.
So don’t stretch your tendon injuries!
What does make tendons get better? We will look at this in a later blog