Tendons & Ligaments - the forgotten aspect of training

Tendons & Ligaments - the forgotten aspect of training

I have written extensively about the importance of strength training.

I was amiss in not talking equally about the importance of training your ligaments and tendons. Allow me to course-correct.

Ligaments and tendons are the connective tissues that link muscles to bones and bones to each other.

It is crucial for musculoskeletal health, particularly in the context of aging. Unlike muscles, which adapt relatively quickly to exercise, tendons and ligaments respond more slowly due to their lower blood supply and metabolic rate.

Tendons and ligaments are composed primarily of collagen fibres, which provide strength and a small degree of elasticity.

Tendons, connecting muscle to bone, transmit forces to facilitate movement, while ligaments connect bones to each other, providing joint stability.

The unique composition of these tissues allows them to withstand tension and absorb shock, but it also makes them susceptible to overuse injuries.

Training them is essential.

The principle of progressive loading is fundamental in tendon and ligament training. This involves gradually increasing the load on these tissues, allowing them to adapt and strengthen over time.

Eccentric exercises, where muscles lengthen under tension (such as the downward phase of a bicep curl), are particularly effective for tendon training.

Research has shown that eccentric training could lead to significant increases in tendon stiffness and cross-sectional area, indicating improved tendon health.

For ligament training, low-intensity, high-volume exercises are beneficial. This approach helps improve the circulation within these tissues.

Plyometric exercises, which involve explosive movements like jumping, can also benefit tendon and ligament strength.

These activities increase the storage and release of elastic energy in the tendons, improving their efficiency and resilience. A study showed the efficacy of plyometrics in enhancing tendon properties.

Adequate nutrition and hydration play a vital role in connective tissue health. Nutrients like protein (particularly collagen), vitamin C, and minerals such as manganese and copper are essential for collagen synthesis and tissue repair.

Have you been training your ligaments and tendons?

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