Yoga for Tendonitis

Published on
November 10, 2004

Tendonitis is the inflammation or irritation of a tendon (the attachment of a muscle to bone). Excessive repetitive movements most often cause tendonitis, but it can also be caused by a minor impact on the affected area, or from a sudden more serious injury. The symptoms of tendonitis are: pain and stiffness, usually around a joint, which is aggravated by movement. Tendonitis is usually a temporary condition, but may become a recurrent or chronic problem.

The healing of tendonitis occurs in two main stages, acute and subacute. Yoga supports the healing process in both stages by activating the body’s lymphatic system and by improving local circulation. Yoga is best used for healing in the subacute stage of tendonitis, as well as for preventing recurring bouts of tendonitis. For acute tendonitis, rest the injured area for 4-6 days. Do not perform any movements that require strength, aggravate the injury, or produce any pain. Elevating the affected area during the inflammation stage helps to control any swelling thereby reducing the throbbing that often accompanies acute inflammation. Inversion poses will be very helpful to reduce inflammation by activating the lymphatic system, and will also provide elevation if the injury is located in the lower body. After the swelling has subsided (usually after the first 48 to 72 hours), very gentle and slow range of motion movements can be performed, but do not stretch the muscles that trigger the tendonitis pain.

The subacute stage of tendonitis follows and lasts between 1-3 weeks. Gentle stretching is the first step of rehabilitation. Stay focused on the breath and the sensations of the stretch, but do not stretch to the point of pain. The next step is to slowly and gently strengthen the muscles surrounding and attached to the injured tendon. Begin with slow, gentle non-weight bearing movements and gradually increase the amount of motion and number of repetitions. As symptoms resolve, gradually resume using weight-bearing movements. Strengthening the surrounding muscles restores full support to the effected joint and reduces the risk of recurrent tendonitis. An adequate warm-up before and correct posture during yoga is essential in this healing stage of tendonitis.

Once the acute and subacute stages of tendonitis or subsides, preventing recurrences is crucial to avoid developing a chronic condition. Developing conscious use of muscles, correct posture and good alignment as well as reducing repetitive movements are necessary. A regular yoga practice will address all these needs, as well as keep the tendons in good health. Care must be taken in yoga to not push or over stretch that can injure or irritate the tendons.

Tendonitis can sometimes recur with a return to physical activity, and prolonged bouts of this painful condition can lead to a thickening or rupture of the tendon. Thus, if the symptoms of tendonitis reappear, it is essential to return to following the movement guidelines for the acute stage.

A yoga practice should be used to supplement conventional therapy, not replace it. Talk to your doctor if your symptoms do not improve.

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3 responses to “Yoga for Tendonitis”

  1. cmking41601 Avatar

    I performed this pose for the first time tonight. It feels really good, especially after putting a blanket under my knees.

  2. budding yogi Avatar
    budding yogi

    I’ve been practicing ashtanga yoga consistently for the past few months, but for the past week, I’ve been feeling pain on my knee. During my last few practices, I noticed that lowering down from back bends seems to be causing it. I lower down, head first, then hip. A friend told me it sounds like tendonitis. Am I doing something wrong?

  3. Jeanette Avatar

    Thanks for the article.

    I have some tendon pain, not terribly, in the inner thigh region leading down to my knee, on the right leg. When I attempt wide-seated forward bends or splits with the right leg behind, I can really feel an uncomfortable pull on tendons leading up to my sit-bone but my suspicion is I have always had some discomfort here. Should i consult a medical practitioner?

Timothy Burgin Avatar
About the author
Timothy Burgin is a Kripalu & Pranakriya trained yoga instructor living and teaching in Asheville, NC. Timothy has studied and taught many styles of yoga and has completed a 500-hour Advanced Pranakriya Yoga training. Timothy has been serving as the Executive Director of since 2000. He has authored two yoga books and has written over 500 articles on the practice and philosophy of yoga. Timothy is also the creator of Japa Mala Beads and has been designing and importing mala beads since 2004.
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