It’s doesn’t come as a surprise that regular exercise is not just good, but crucial for health. And if you’re someone who’s built breaking a sweat into their daily routine, being confined indoors, (in the current climate) wouldn’t have changed things too much.
If you’ve already been working on your muscle strength and endurance, we’d like to draw your attention to your tendons – the conduits that attach your muscles to your bones, allowing them to express their power and make all your movements possible.
Unfortunately, even when they play such a crucial role in keeping us on the move, the only time we really pay attention to our tendons and ligaments is when we suffer an injury. How about we look at a few ways to train and strengthen them, without waiting for one?
But before we start, here are a few basic things to keep in mind.
- Tendons have two properties – stiffness and elasticity. You need some of your tendons to be stiff and some to be elastic. And unlike the sound of it, tendon stiffness is a good thing. It helps you transmit more force. And having low tendon elasticity is desirable, as it means your tendons waste lesser energy in recoil.
- Since tendons receive less blood flow than muscles, strengthening them takes more time and work, than training muscles.
Here’s How You Can Train Your Tendons
- Eccentric Movements: Tendons respond well to eccentrics like walking downhill, lowering yourself slowly to the bottom pushup position, eccentric bicep or wrist curls, and anything that puts a load on the muscle-tendon complex while lengthening it.
- Partial reps: Partial reps of extremely heavy weights along with focus on the final 4-6 inches before lockout of the primary exercises, like bench press, overhead press, squat, and deadlift can help increase tendon strength.
- Plyometrics: Explosive movements can help strengthen the recoil response of tendons.
- Explosive isometrics: Explosive movements against something immovable, like trying to push a car with its parking brakes on, or pushing your fist against a wall, can help strengthen tendons too.
- Rock-climbing: Indoor or outdoor rock-climbing and other movements like holding on to a ledge with five fingertips, are a great way to increase tendon volume. The increased volume, in turn, lends them strength.
- Intensity training: Tendons need stress to be able to gain stiffness and elasticity – stress that’s more than what is provided by your daily activities.
- Deep Stretching: Deeper, longer stretches like a front squat with the hip-crease dropping below the knees, or pectoral stretches taken a bit further against a door frame, or a calf-stretch using stairs or the curb to lift toes closer to shins can help build tendon strength.
- Massages and foam-rolling: Massages can increase blood flow to your tendons and strengthen them. Using foam rollers and lacrosse balls is a good idea too.
It’s important to keep in mind that mild discomfort is okay, and you can push yourself a bit, but not so much that it causes pain. Also, your tendons will need that push every day to get stronger. And you can’t rush it. The idea is to give your tendons enough time to build collagen density while making sure you’re not too harsh on your body.
Here’s to healthy tendons then, that make you stronger, more explosive, more powerful, and more resilient!