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Tune-Up for Tendons

By Leah Guy

We’re preparing for summer here on ModernSage. I trust your allergies are under control and you’ve in great shape and ready to enjoy the summer sun. Now… it’s tendon time. The last thing you need this summer is tennis elbow, golfer’s shoulder, IT band issues, rotator cuff, knee problems, or foot/ankle tendons talkin’ to ya. As a certified massage therapist, I have treated MANY patients with tendon issues and have seen a complete turn-around in health with proper, natural treatment that can help avoid unnecessary surgery.

A brief history: Tendon problems come about with excessive use and trauma to the tendon itself or the joint or muscle in association. Tendons are made up of collagen. As the strands of the ropey-like collagen pull, tear or degenerate, scar tissue forms which causes pain in the area. If left untreated, scar tissue continues to build, causing weakness and soreness around the affected area and joint. Inflammation sets in, the tendon becomes weak, priming the tendon for a complete break and by George, we’ve got a problem! (Who IS George, btw?) Other conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or gout can bring along tendonitis as well, but most frequently, it’s seen in active people that have over-used the area and have an accumulation of unhealthy scar tissue. Even excessive computer use can be a culprit! It’s an over-use/over-time issue.

So, what can you do?

Massage therapy will help, if you can find a therapist that specializes in sports injuries. The process of breaking off the scar tissue is not necessarily pleasant (you may interview my former clients!) but effective. Stretching, on the other hand, is not the preferred method as it will most likely cause more tears to the tendons. There are some supplements that are VERY helpful to the health of your tendons, and here they are.

The cartilaginous tissue in the body is rich in a substance known as glucosamine. Many think glucosamine is just used for arthritis, but it actually supports the tissue around the joint. As I mentioned, tendons are made up of collagen. Vitamin C with bioflavonoids will help restore collagen in the tendons and the herb Horsetail is rich in collagen as well. If you’re already experiencing pain and inflammation, you may try GLA – a fatty acid found in oils like Evening Primrose that will help your body produce it’s own natural anti-inflammatory, prostaglandins. Bromelain is an enzyme that affectively reduces inflammation and can be paired with other pain relieving herbs such as Holy Basil and Turmeric. Cat’s claw is another great herb that helps with inflammation and is particularly good for tendonitis.Vitamin E helps restore damaged cells and reduces scar tissue. It can be taken internally or applied directly with massage to the affected area to break-up the scar tissue. Another great topical treatment is a paste made of ground Fenugreek and milk.

Take care of those tendons and you’ll be free to swing, plant and pull, run and play all summer long!

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