Excessive damage to soft tissues like ligaments and tendons can result from overzealous training, poor technique, or severe fatigue. If left unchecked, nagging elbow, knee, or shoulder pain can create a vicious cycle of degeneration and swelling, leading to tendinitis, a painful inflammation of the tendons. This, in turn, can cause further damage—and keep you out of the gym long term.

Avoid soft-tissue damage with a few simple tips:


1. Listen to your body.

When you begin to experience persistent pain and swelling, cut back on the intensity and frequency of your training.

2. Avoid NSAIDs.

Don’t mask pain—if you return to training too soon, you’ll make things worse. Chronic use of NSAIDs (like ibuprofen) can lead to overtraining.

3. Actively Rest.

Schedule rest, and use recovery techniques like icing, stretching, and massage. Get more sleep and plenty of antioxidants and protein for recovery.



Victor R. Prisk, M.D., is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon, NCAA All- America gymnast, and GNC medical advisory board member.