First off it is important to understand what tendons are..
Your tendons are rope like structures made up of dense connective tissue. They connect muscles to bones and transmit the force generated by the muscles to the bones to produce movement.
They have a high tensile strength and are very springy, allowing them to handle the high tension and elongation that happens when muscles contract.
Think of your tendons like this rope, woven with thousands of threads of collagen fibers.
Imagine you overuse a rope, over time it will wear down and become weak. Similar concept applies to your tendon, except you have the ability to strengthen your tendons, and increase the thickness of the fibers through training.
In sports that require a lot of jumping, twisting, turning, or cutting motions, like soccer, basketball or tennis, the tendons of the knee and ankle play a crucial role in maintaining stability and preventing injury.
So how does training my tendons help me become a better athlete..
Tendons are the enablers of the potential force (stored energy) your muscles generate during exercise. However, the key word here is potential. If the mechanical stress exceeds your tendons capacity, they cannot fully transmit the force from muscle to bone
to enable movement.
Lack of tendon training can also lead to muscle imbalances. When certain muscles are overworked and others are underworked, it can lead to compensations and changes in movement patterns. This can lead to poor movement efficiency and reduced performance in physical activity.
How can I train my tendons?
Training tendons does not have to be done in isolation from the rest of your training, rather it can be integrated into your workouts
Known as “jump training”, plyos focus on explosive movements to increase power, speed, and agility by training muscles to produce the maximum force in shortest amount of time
Examples of plyometrics include
Static exercises without movement, essentially involve holding the exercise in a position for a duration of time
These exercises are great to add strength after coming off an injury
An example of this would be holding a standing calf raise for 45 seconds
Eccentrics focus on force absorption and are considered the “down phase” of the movement, where we lengthen under load
An example of this would be eccentric nordics, focusing on the exerting maximal strength while going down
Long range strength
By doing long range strength exercises, we take the muscles into full ROM and then the tendon takes over
An example of a long range exercise would be the ATG split squat
Loading - Progressive overload
By gradually increasing the stress/load placed on the tendons, they will adapt and become stronger
How often should I train my tendons?
Tendons, like muscles, also need time to recover and repair after being stressed during training. Therefore, it's important to allow for adequate rest and reco
very time between training sessions to allow the tendons to heal and adapt.
Tendons adapt slowly, so it is important to be mindful of the volume, frequency and intensity of stress placed on them. They receive much less blood flow than muscles so they take longer to adapt.
It may take several weeks or even months before you start to see significant improvements in tendon strength. It's also important to start with lower resistance and gradually increase it over time to avoid overuse injury.
The frequency of tendon training will depend on a variety of factors, including the specific goals of the individual, the current state of the tendons, and the exercises being performed.
It is important to be consistent with your tendon sessions whether that is once a week to every day, with at least 12 hours of rest between sessions to allow for adequate recovery.
An example of an Achilles tendon micro-workout you can add to your routine
Heel toe walk - 20 meters
Plantar iso-hold - 3 sets of 30 seconds
STL calf raise - 3 sets of 10 reps
Ankle hops - 3 sets of 20 reps
Thank you for reading! If you have any questions feel free to reach out.