Progressive Tendon Loading

Sep 09, 2016

The tendons connect muscle to bone. They play a role in joint movement by allowing transmission of forces made by muscle to bone. Tendon injuries can significantly affect your lifestyle because they can cause functional disability.

Progressive loading is seen to be a viable treatment to tendon injuries. Rest can be detrimental because it detrains and weakens tendons. On the other hand, excessive loading may aggravate the problem as it can cause bleeding, structural changes and eventually tendon thickening.

Tendon Injuries

The role of the tendons is to connect muscle to bone, so they need to be strong enough to withstand a lot of stress and strain. If you have weak tendons, you’ll experience weakness, pain and you’ll be more susceptible to injury.

Tendons need consistent and progressive load to ensure they are strong and able to keep up with the demands of physical activities. Loading strengthens the tendons. For athletes, taking a considerable time off from their sport whether they suffer from injury or are simply being on a vacation can weaken their tendons and become unaccustomed to previous loads. So when they resume their sport, their tendon can no longer keep up with the demands it used to, leading to tendon injuries.

Progressive Loading

Controlled loading and unloading have considerable effects on tendon structure and function. Progressive loading is important for your tendons to adapt with the physical demands of various activities. By progressively increasing the load exerted on the tendon, there should be an increase in inherent strength of the tendon.

Several studies have shown that tendon unloading reduces mechanical strength and stiffness and can reduce synthesis of collagen proteins.

Too Much Rest Won’t Help

When your tendon gets injured, it’s just right to stop doing the activity that caused the injury. And it’s also safer to avoid any activities that worsen your pain. This way you can prevent any further damage and allow your tendon to heal.

The amount of time you need to rest depends on which tendon is injured and how severe it’s damaged. But resting too much is unhelpful because it can lead to long-term stiffness. To recover properly, gradually restart exercise when your pain allows.

Excessive loading is actually harmful. Tendon injuries are often led by excessive or insufficient mechanical loading. They impair the ability of the tendon cells to maintain their normal tendon function.

Managing Load the Right Way

This doesn’t mean walking around on crutches because it completely offloads the tendon. Loading should still be involved. You just need to reduce the load to a level that allows your tendon to heal. You may need to rest from running or modify your training. Your pain may settle in a few days but your tendon may still be sensitive to high loads.

When managing load, observe how your injured tendon responds. Tendons respond to loading latently. Pay attention not just to the immediate response but also 24 hours later. For example, if you run now, you may feel fine for today. But tomorrow, you’ll be in pain.

If you start mobilising your recovering tendon early, you can reduce the formation of tissue scars and aid healing. Just be cautious of excessive loading as it may disrupt tissue repair.

It’ll be greatly beneficial to seek help from a Perth physiotherapist to heal your injuries properly.

Call us today on 9444 8729!