Triceps Tendinopathy


Triceps tendinopathy is a degenerative condition of the triceps tendon at its elbow attachment point caused by repetitive strain. This condition typically effects those who do a lot of pushing movements i.e. industry workers or weightlifters. As will all tendinopathies triceps tendinopathy has a gradual onset. It occurs because the body is unable to repair the damage that has occurred before the next work out or heavy day at work. When you workout at the gym your muscles undergo micro damage. This micro damage stimulates the production of more muscle fibres and remodelling (strengthening) the ones you already have. This is a normal process however if you do not allow your body sufficient time to recover between sessions the damage accumulates and becomes significant. Once the degeneration has reached such levels pain will develop, you will become weaker and you will have a lengthy recover period in front of you.

Occasionally this condition will occur concurrently with olecronon bursitis, making your symptoms significantly worse and making it harder to rehabilitate. As this condition has been known to get worse without the appropriate treatment it is best to catch it as early as you can so you can get back to what you love doing as soon as possible.

Skull crushers, a tricep extension exercises has been noted as causing a significant amount of tricep tendinopathies in the gym. This is probably due to both the angle of the elbow during the movement and from the slow lowering (eccentric) portion of the exercise. If you really want to do any tricep extension exercise in the gym, it is best to be cautious and ensure adequate recovery between tricep extension exercises.

As tricep tendinopathies are a tricky condition it is best to tell your physiotherapist about your training schedule so that they can advise you on the best course of action. This will ensure you get back into the gym as soon as possible and can do your exercises without limitation.
Rest will help but if you fail to address the cause the problem will keep reappearing.


Signs and symptom of triceps tendinopathies include:

  • Pain on the superior boarder on the back of your elbow joint, over the triceps tendon or pain just superior to the point of the elbow.
  • Discomfort on exercises such as push ups, dips or skull crushers in the gymnasium.
  • Pain aggravated by throwing.
  • Pain on straightening or bending your elbow.


Physiotherapy treatments for triceps tendinopathies may include:

  • Specific massage to release the muscle tension and stimulate recovery.
  • Stretching.
  • Mobilisations of any stiff joints.
  • Correcting any other biomechanical faults.
  • Revision of your exercise regime to correct any at fault exercises.
  • Specific strengthening exercises shown to decrease the recovery time in tendinopathies. The wrong exercises will significantly increase your recovery time or will actually make your condition worse.