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3 Principles of Tendon Recovery

Reduced Load

When recovering from an injury it is best to selectively cut out activities which exacerbate the injury. When it comes to tendon injuries, movements that involve the Stretch-Shortening-Cycle (SSC) where the tendon behaves like a spring, stretching to store energy and then releasing should be avoided. For example, avoiding running, jumping and hopping for an Achilles tendon injury.

Avoid activities that place a compressive load on the tendon, usually this is any activity that would involve stretching the effected muscle, or direct tendon compression.

Maintain Activity

Just because you have injured a tendon does not mean you should completely rest. Once you have isolated the activities which can cause further aggravation, you should look to continue or swap in other tolerated physical activity. This is important for maintaining your health, physical function, and recovery timeframe. The consequences of disuse and physical inactivity could be more severe than the tendon injury itself. Good examples of maintaining activity include swapping running with cycling, swimming or walking depending on the tendon in question.

Reload Gradually

Isometric exercises (tension but no movement) can help reduce pain and is a great tool to use when looking to initially rebuild the strength and integrity of your tendons. These exercises should be done in a position where there is no tendon compression or stretch, usually in the mid-range of the muscle length. Examples of this would be 20-60 s holds, 4-5 times, reducing pain and maintaining tolerated muscle capacity and tendon load. In highly irritable tendons, an exercise which uses both affected and non-affected limbs, with shorter holding times and fewer repetitions per day may be better tolerated.

Once this can be completed reliably without further aggravation, tendon loading can transition to more functional movements like squatting, pulling, or pressing, where further resistance can be used in a controlled manner.

At Empower we have helped many people rehabilitate their tendon injuries ranging from Plantar Fasciitus to Rotator Cuff Tendonitis. If you are interested in creating an individualised plan which takes into account your capacity and constraints why not book in a free 15minute chat today where you can talk to one of our qualified Exercise Physiologists.


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