Many of us are mourning the loss of our activities during this pandemic. Golf courses, gyms, pools, tennis courts, hockey rinks have all been closed and we are eagerly awaiting their reopening.
We are finding ways to adapt to our new normal with masks, social distancing and zoom meetings. But how are our tendons adapting…. And will they be ready when we get the green light? You might think rest is a good thing…. But not always.
Tendons are the attachments of our muscles to our bones (our pulley systems if you will) and they are quite susceptible to injuries. Tendonapathies, a type of overuse injury, are typically caused by “too much, too soon”…. You get where I’m going with this? Inevitably things will reopen and we will be eager to resume our activities.
While we have been on break, our tendons have been adapting to their new normal as well. This includes not much repetitive overheard work for the swimmers and baseball players (rotator cuff tendons), not as much gripping for the tennis, golf and gym folks (tennis/golfers elbow tendons), not as much stopping and starting for the soccer and squash (Achilles and patella tendons).
These changes in routine lead to less robust tendons, able to withstand less force, speed and repetitions. These adaptations of our tendons are a normal occurrence with rest. Our body gets good at whatever we are doing a lot of. If we are doing a lot of computer work, home schooling and eating… that doesn’t bode well for our golf and tennis swings. The last thing we want is an injury keeping us out of our sport once things have reopened. So what do we do?
LOAD EM UP!
It doesn’t need to be heavy, just consistent. Even small amounts of load delivered routinely to the tendons will signal them to continue regenerating and maintaining their robustness for when they are tested again by our activities.
Using light weights and progressing to high numbers of reps is a great way to maintain and even develop great tendon hardiness. Keep in mind, if your tendons have not been loaded much lately then the progression needs to be gradual. Remember the “too much, too soon” path to injury. Exercises that do a great job with this micro-loading would be…
- light banded rotator cuff internal and external rotations (shoulder tendons)
- soup can wrist extension and flexion/curls (wrist tendons, tennis elbow, golfers elbow)
- body weight heel drops from a step (Achilles tendons, plantar fascia)
If you are familiar with these exercises then GET TO WORK…. If you aren’t familiar with these, we would certainly be willing to help teach you proper technique or add more specific exercises to your tendon pre-hab via a telehealth appointment.