Have you ever heard of “golfer’s elbow” or “jumper’s knee?” People often use these terms to refer to tendonitis, a painful condition that can bring a dull, achy pain to your joints and limbs. There are common ways to soothe tendonitis, such as rest, ice, and support through a bandage or brace. But what about massage therapy? Does massage help with tendonitis?
Keep reading to learn about massage for tendonitis, including whether or not it offers any benefits and how to try it at home.
What Is Tendonitis?
Tendons are thick, rope-like tissues made out of collagen. They connect your muscles to your bones, and they can be found all throughout your body — from your neck down to your feet.
Tendonitis happens when these tendons become inflamed or irritated. This can happen suddenly, like after intense physical activity. It can also happen over time, from repetitive tasks that put strain and stress on your tendons.
Elbows, knees, shoulders, and Achilles tendons are common places where tendonitis can show up. Your symptoms might feel like a dull ache along with tenderness, stiffness, or swelling.
What Causes Tendonitis?
Tendons are resistant to becoming torn, but at the same time, they aren’t exactly stretchy. For this reason, they can become damaged by a wide variety of activities. Even small, repetitive tasks like reaching above your head can cause micro-tears and inflame your tendons over time.
Some other everyday activities that might lead to tendonitis are:
- A job that requires awkward positioning and movements, such as construction or hairdressing
- Hobbies like gardening, painting, or playing instruments
- Sports such as baseball, basketball, tennis, golf, and swimming
Most of the time, tendonitis shows up after physical activities like these. But sometimes, it can come along with certain conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, or kidney problems. In any case, you’ll need to follow your doctor’s treatment recommendations and get their opinion before trying massage.
Does Massage Help with Tendonitis?
So, can massage help tendonitis?
In many cases, yes. Whether your massage involves friction, kneading, or vibration, it can relax your muscles and promote healing in your body.
But that’s not all that it can do. Here are a few more surprising ways that massage could soothe tendonitis:
Promotes Healthy Blood Flow
Massaging the tissue surrounding your tendonitis can boost healthy, oxygen-rich blood flow to the area. This improved circulation can soothe your aches and discomfort while facilitating healing.
Decreasing Sensations of Pain
A telltale symptom of tendonitis is the pain that comes with it. The good news is that gentle body massage may decrease your feelings of pain by relaxing your muscles and promoting a flood of feel-good chemicals in your brain.
Breaks Up Scar Tissue
When someone experiences tendonitis regularly, it might stem from lifestyle factors like work, sports, or hobbies. Not only is frequent tendonitis like this uncomfortable, but it can also cause a buildup of scar tissue over time. Luckily, massage can help you free up scar tissue and ease some of the tension surrounding it.
Loosens Muscle Tension
Tense muscles near an injured tendon can make things worse because they can almost “pull” on the tendon (which is already aggravated and not very stretchy.) A gentle friction massage can help you ease this muscle tension and take some pressure off your inflamed tendons.
How to Massage Tendonitis
If you want to try massage for tendonitis but aren’t sure where to start, here are a few methods you can try:
See a Massage Therapist
For advanced help, try visiting a massage therapist’s office. Be sure to tell them ahead of time that you suffer from tendonitis. This way, they can appropriately decide which massage techniques can best provide you relief.
You can spend some time gently massaging the tissue surrounding your tendons. Using light pressure in circular motions, you can ease muscle tension and boost nutrient-rich blood flow in the area.
You don’t need to know any special techniques for this. Simply use your hands and fingers to knead the tissue in a way that feels soothing to you, and avoid anything that causes you pain.
Cross Friction Self-Massage
Cross friction massage is a technique that some masseuses and physical therapists use to break up scar tissue.
In simple terms, it involves applying light friction across the muscle fibers, instead of along them. For example, when the fibers in your elbow run from left to right, a cross-friction massage would be applied in a forward and backward motion.
Sometimes, tendonitis doesn’t get a chance to heal fully, and it can lead to scar tissue buildup over time. With that in mind, this modality may be helpful if you are someone who experiences frequent cases of tendonitis.
Using a Massager
Massage therapy doesn’t have to be a manual, expensive, or lengthy process. Instead, you can use an FDA-certified body massager like the MedMassager MMB05.
To use this device for tendonitis:
- Start by icing your area of concern to ease irritation and inflammation.
- Then, turn the MedMassager MMB05 to the lowest setting and use it in the general region where you’re feeling pain and tension.
- Slowly turn up the settings on the device until it suits your needs and comfort level.
- Use for up to ten minutes at a time.
When Shouldn’t You Massage Tendonitis?
You might be wondering: Are there any times when you shouldn’t massage tendonitis?
The answer to that is: Yes. In fact, you should not massage acute (or recent) tendonitis that has been around for less than two days — simply because it can make the injury worse.
Aside from that, tendonitis can sometimes occur with other conditions or injuries that massage can aggravate. Be sure to check with your doctor if you have an infection, bursitis, rheumatoid arthritis, or any other condition that you feel unsure about.
The Bottom Line on Massage for Tendonitis
Massage therapy can help you soothe tension and break up scar tissue around tendonitis. It can also promote healthy, oxygen-rich blood flow and help you reduce your sensations of pain.
You can try gentle kneading or cross friction techniques to get started. And for easy, accessible massage day after day, you can use an FDA-certified device like the MedMassager MMB05.