Friday, April 1, 2011


So I re-injured my arm. And I figured out what was wrong.

I have tendinitis. And not just in my left elbow, but my right one, too.
I was making progress again, and I expected to resume training with the 28 kg kettlebells again by April 1st. But after an easy set of 2x24kg long cycle on Wednesday, March 23rd, I thought I'd follow up with a second set of 2x24kg instead of the easier set with 2x20kg I had planned.

Big mistake.

My left arm told me so, after just 17 reps. I felt a another pain in my left triceps and elbow area, and set down the bells. I thought it was no big deal at the time, but the next day I could tell I had re-injured it.

In the meantime I've done some research about my symptoms, and I've figured out I have tendinitis. Basically, an inflammation or irritation of the tendons.
Some relevant facts for kettlebell sport athletes (taken from WebMD):

1. Tendinitis is most often caused by repetitive, minor impact on the affected area.
Gee, I wonder who that applies to?

2. There are many activities that can cause tendinitis, including:

* Gardening
* Raking
* Carpentry
* Shoveling
* Painting
* Scrubbing
* Tennis
* Golf
* Skiing
* Throwing and pitching
* Kettlebell lifting

Ok, so I added that last one. But now we know.

3. Poor stretching or conditioning before exercise or playing sports also increases a person's risk.

Yes. See my last blog post.

Now for the best part:

4. Initial treatment of tendinitis includes:

* Avoiding activities that aggravate the problem (edited to add: even if it's your only hobby)
* Resting the injured area (even if it makes you stir crazy).

And for the coup de grĂ¢ce:

5. Tendinitis may take weeks to months to go away, depending on the severity of your injury. This is true even if you have a meet planned and its the only one less than one hundred miles from your home in the next year.
Ok, so I added that last sentence, too.

Looking forwards, I also found this advice at WebMD:

How Can I Prevent Tendinitis?

Include warm up and cool down exercises and stretches in your exercise routine. As a general rule, a good warm-up is five minutes for every 30 minutes of planned exercise. One hour on the treadmill or elliptical trainer requires 10 minutes of warm-up. Vary your exercises and gently stretch all the muscles and tendons you are planning to exercise.

Really, if this is the worst thing that happens to me this year, I should count myself blessed. But I was so looking forward to competing in the GA State Championships this June, and I was expecting to make my CMS rank. Even after the first injury, I thought at the very least I could dominate in the 24kg (amateur) division. At this point, I may not even be able to compete. It's starting to look very doubtful.

I've had some workouts (like last night for example) that feel really easy at the time, but leave my arm(s) sore and in a little worse shape the next day. Last night it was super-setting 2x24kg cleans and jumping rope for 22 minutes. Even thought I'm not in pain today, my left arm is stiff and a little worse off, and won't heal doing that.

I'm not really sure what to do. Looking at the big picture, I'd probably be best served by just completely bailing on any kettlebell lifting for the next few weeks, and concentrating only on rest and recovery. In the meantime I'll learn a new joint mobility and stretching routine, and maybe work on squats. I'll report back when I've decided.

Until then, good lifting and good health to you.
God bless,



  1. David,
    Sorry to hear about your struggles with injury. I hurt myself after working the 28's essentially nonstop for 18 months. I came to many of the same realizations that you have.....lack of adequate warm up and I also think that just working biathlon or LCCJ leads to many body imbalances that eventually lead to injury. We become some focused on the goal, that we allow the body to suffer. Like you, I really struggled giving up competition. I still can't get myself to just stop using the kettlebells, which would likely lead to my greatest chance of healing. However, I have learned that a steady diet of 2 handed swing intervals doesn't aggravate my injury and does allow one to keep your cardiovascular conditioning. Good Luck.


  2. Thanks, Matt. Hope your shoulder gets better and we meet on the lifting platform again soon. Our respective CMS ranks are long over-due. :)

  3. I am sorry to hear about your injury, I wish you a speedy recovery.

  4. Thanks, Boris. I've been doing a swing/jump rope circuit that Cate Imes suggested, and I noticed Matt has had good results with swings also, so I am keeping in shape. Hopefully I'll be back on the platform soon. I know you are younger and less at risk for this injury, but I recommend a good stretching, ROM, and GPP regimen to keep your joints healthy. Good luck at your May competition.

  5. Thank you David. I spend a lot of time doing exactly that, but I think I could use a lot more.