Tendinopathy is a common condition characterized by pain, stiffness, and reduced function in a particular tendon of the body. It can occur in any tendon, but is most commonly found in the Achilles tendon, patellar tendon, and the tendons of the rotator cuff. Tendinopathy can be caused by overuse, trauma, or aging, and can significantly impact an individual's quality of life. However, strength training can help manage tendinopathies by reducing pain, improving mobility, and increasing strength in the affected area. We'll say it again STRENGTH TRAINING is necessary for recovery, while stretching may have it's place it can also hinder your recovery.
The first step in treating tendinopathies is to identify the specific tendon affected and the severity of the condition. This can be done through a physical examination with a healthcare provider. At Thrive-HQ we take a full 90 minutes to perform our clinical exams in order to identify the injured structure(s) and pinpoint the root cause of the issue. Once the diagnosis has been made, a treatment plan can be created, which may include a combination of ACTIVE rest (don't stop exercising), physical therapy, medication (in some cases), and strength training.
Strength training for tendinopathies typically involves exercises that focus on the affected area and are designed to improve the strength and flexibility of the tendons. The exercises should be performed with proper form and technique, and should also be specific to the sport and/or the movement demands that individual does.
Here are some exercises that can be included in a strength training program for tendinopathies:
Eccentric Exercises - Eccentric exercises are a staple in rehabilitation and involve lengthening the muscle as it contracts, which can help to strengthen the tendons. For example, an eccentric exercise for the Achilles tendon would involve standing on a step with your heels hanging off the edge, then lowering your heels down below the step and then raising back up to the starting position.
Isometric Exercises - Isometric exercises involve holding a muscle contraction without moving the joint, which can help to improve tendon strength and reduce pain. For example, an isometric exercise for the patellar tendon would involve holding a squat position with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
Heavy Slow Resistance Exercises - Heavy resistance exercises involve lifting weights that are challenging for the affected area, which can help to improve tendon strength and reduce pain. Most research studies show that heavy slow resistance training can be just as effective as eccentric strength training for recovery. For example, a heavy resistance exercise for the rotator cuff tendons would involve using dumbbells or resistance bands to perform external and internal rotation exercises.
Plyometric Exercises - Plyometric exercises involve explosive movements that can help to improve tendon strength and reduce pain. These exercises should be reserved for the later part of your rehab and should be guided by a professional. For example, a plyometric exercise for the Achilles tendon would involve jumping off a box and landing on both feet, then immediately jumping back onto the box.
It's important to remember that while strength training for tendinopathies is super important, there are other modalities that can help speed up your recovery, such as dry needling and blood flow restriction training (ask us about what those are!). It's also important to start with light weights and gradually increase the weight as your strength improves. If you experience any pain or discomfort while performing these exercises, stop immediately and give us a call.
In conclusion, strength training can be an effective treatment for tendinopathies by reducing pain, improving mobility, and increasing strength in the affected area. By incorporating exercises that focus on the specific tendon affected, and gradually increasing the weight and intensity of the exercises, individuals with tendinopathies can achieve significant improvement in their condition and quality of life.
Please reach out to us if you have any questions or want to know how you can get started on your journey of recovery!