All about Tendons

Tendons are fibrous connective tissue with the purpose of attaching muscles to bones essentially allowing us to move

What are they?

You have most likely heard of terms such as Achilles ruptures, tendonitis and tendinopathy in the past, to truly understand what terms like these mean you have to understand the basic anatomy of a tendon.

In basic terms tendons are fibrous connective tissue with the purpose of attaching muscles to bones essentially allowing us to move, they also act as shock absorbers for the body when we perform movements such as running and jumping.

Tendons are mainly made up of collagen fibres which are extremely strong and flexible, allowing them to withstand a lot of force before they experience any damage. The structure of the tendon is very similar to that of a rope, essentially being made up of small collagen fibres arranged in bundles making the tendon stronger. 

How do they get injured/treatment

Yes, tendons may be extremely strong making them highly resistant to tears but they are not very stretchy essentially meaning they are still susceptible to injury.

Common injuries to the tendon include; strains, tendinitis/tendinopathy, tears/ruptures. A common misconception when it comes to tendons is that they need rest, it is actually the complete opposite.

We cannot stress this enough when we say massage does not help a tendon, it is almost counterproductive to massage a tendon. Tendons need to be loaded for them to see any improvement, this does not mean you keep loading them at the same weight/intensity you were loading them at previously but you don’t stop loading completely.

You have to work at an intensity that is still loading the tendon but might still give you a little bit of discomfort. Experiencing a slight bit of pain/discomfort when doing tendon rehab is okay, it’s all about progressively increasing that load without irritating the tendon again.

To begin with, basic isometric holds/contractions (holding a static contraction against resistance) will do. After the initial period of isometric holds, you can begin to progressively overload.

It is important to work both the concentric and eccentric phases of each movement when it comes to loading the tendon.

In some cases, a surgical approach may be required (such as a full rupture of the tendon), this is usually followed up by a tailored physical rehabilitation program once the initial healing period is over.