Do you know the significance of a tendon injury and how to recover safely and effectively? Do you have a plan of how to increase your tendon health so you can maximize your workout gains and reduce risk of injury? Do you know the importance of tendons and what role they play in your body and movement?
Let's learn a bit about tendons, and what we can do to maximize their potential.
Tendons are the anatomical structures that transfer forces from muscle to bone resulting in joint movement. All muscles that create joint movement attach to tendon, which attaches to bone and facilitates the transfer of force resulting in movement.
In general, thicker and stiffer tendons can transmit greater forces. However, an injured tendon may be swollen without increasing stiffness. Fully stiff tendons are also not ideal, as the tendon should have variable stiffness.
The part of the tendon that attaches to the muscle should have compliance which acts as a shock absorber, while the part of the tendon that attaches to the bone should be stiffer to transmit forces.
Tendons can be strained or degenerated resulting in injuries such as painful irritation or rupture. Injured tendons heal slowly and have difficulty recovering prior strength and integrity.
Injury to a tendon is less than ideal. Not only does it take you away from competition or training, but it also effects your daily life, and can be problematic during recovery. Frequently, people may have a tendon injury that they fight off for long periods of time. The tendon calms down, so they increase their exercise. Then it flares up, so the exercise has to be scaled back or stopped. This yo-yo effect is both frustrating and detrimental.
Isometric exercises have been studied for tendon health and provide increased tendon stiffness and increased tendon thickness, making them more resilient to injury. Isometrics also are beneficial for muscle strength, motor recruitment, and muscle size, as well as providing significant pain relief.
Isometrics occur when a muscle activates and creates tension, but the joint does not move. Squeezing a tight fist is an example where muscle tension increases even though no joint movement occurs.
Utilizing isometric exercises, the tendon can increase stiffness and thickness resulting in decreased risk of injury. Also, an isometric can be done at variable angles. If a certain position of a joint is painful to contract the muscle, then an isometric can be completed nearby in a pain free position to allow both the muscle and tendon to improve as healing progresses and pain decreases.
It is recommended that isometrics are completed separately from other exercise activity, and that six hours of rest occur both before and after isometric exercises. Isometric exercises should be held for durations from 10-30 seconds, followed by 30-45 seconds of rest. Completing isometrics at higher intensity, with longer muscle lengths, and for longer durations are found to be beneficial.
Isometric exercises in a non injured athlete can be used as a recovery method on a rest day, or a lighter exercise day. In an injured athlete, isometrics can be used to maintain strength while providing protection from an irritating position. Multi angle isometrics can be used during this recovery period.
Training to prevent tendon injury and recover from a tendon injury can both be effectively completed with isometric exercises. These exercises are tolerated very well, and can be applied in any available position to improve motor control and strength at a specific angle. A program for tendon health should be designed by a qualified provider after evaluation of an injury is completed. #snowbeastperformance