What are tendons?
Tendons are strong structures in our body that connect our muscles to bones. Unlike muscles, they are purposely very stiff, which allow force to be absorbed by the tendon and allow the muscles to function more efficiently. The Achilles tendon, located at the back of the ankle, is the largest tendon in the body and allows us to run and jump. Gluteal (bottom) and rotator cuff (shoulder) tendons are other major tendons important for fast and strong movements.
Tendon’s love load!
Tendon injuries respond really well to heavy and slow exercise and a progressively overloaded program guided by your physiotherapist can both reduce your pain and increase the strength and capacity of the tendon. Remember, a stiff tendon is a strong tendon and will you to run, jump and move the way you need to for your sport or activity.
Tendons don’t like stretching!
Tendons really don’t like compression and tensile forces (push and pull forces). Although stretching may seem like a natural thing to after experiencing tendon pain, stretching may actually irritate the tendon! Stretching increases both the compression of the tendon on underlying tissue and also can increase the pulling forces in the tendon, which are both known factors that can affect the integrity of the tendon, so it is best that this is minimised in order to promote efficient healing.
Tendons don’t like big changes in your exercise routine!
Tendons also really don’t like change, and they can be really stubborn about this. When there are big changes in training from week to week, or even when a new exercise routine is started, tendons will often let you know that they’re not happy. The best way to keep these tendons happy while trying to make some progress with your exercise is to try make gradual increases from week to week. A nice rule of thumb for this is around 10-30%. For example, if you’ve been walking or running 10km per week for a few weeks and are looking to up your game, we would recommend increasing this by 1-3km for the next week.