2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on

Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

Treating Aches and Pains

A personal perspective on healing back, joint and other body pains.

by: Buck Tilton

Don't Overuse Joints
It all started for me a couple of winters ago. Sitting by the fire after a day on the snow, my right elbow ached and burned like it was in the fire instead of near it.

So now a look at joints.

Almost all voluntary movement in the human body involves tendons moving across joints. Look at the inside of your wrist and make a fist. The stringy cords that you see shifting under the skin are tendons. These particular ones connect the muscles of your forearm to your wrist and fingers, allowing them to work.

Tendons are attached to muscles on one end and to bones at an insertion point on the other. On the way from muscle to bone, the tendon passes through a tendon sheath, which is attached to the underlying bone. When the muscle flexes it contracts, shortening and drawing the tendon toward the muscle. The sheath stabilizes the tendon and acts as a pulley. Without the tendon sheath the tendon would straighten as a rope does when it is tied to a weight and pulled. The tendon sheath keeps the tendon near the bone, increasing the efficiency of the system and preventing us from looking funny when we flex a muscle.

The sheath secretes synovial fluid, the same viscous, slimy fluid that keeps joints lubricated and your lungs stuck effortlessly to your chest wall while allowing the lungs to move freely as the chest wall moves.

When you've ski-poled your way on snowshoes up many a slope--gripping the pole, shoving with elbow and shoulder--a tendon may be overworked. The sheath tries to keep things running smoothly by secreting more fluid, but the sheath can't expand to hold the increase in fluid, so the tendon is compressed. The tendon and the sheath swell and inflammation begins. Now the tendon calls for more lubrication and the sheath responds with more fluid and the problem increases each time that particular tendon is used. What develops is tendinitis. Or, as some medical books spell it, tendonitis. Even though no tendon is immune to trouble, some parts of your body are more susceptible than others--shoulders, wrists, and elbows, for example.

Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Address 1:
Address 2:
Email (req):
Reader Rating: -


Your rating:
Your Name:


My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

Trailhead Register
Posted On: Jul 11, 2014
Submitted By: TDale
Trailhead Register
My awesome July 4th Backpack: A trip report
Posted On: Jul 11, 2014
Submitted By: buddero

View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site

Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions