How to Strengthen Tendons and Ligaments for Injury Prevention

People do not pay much attention to how to strengthen tendons and ligaments, until they suffer a tendon injury. Only then do you realize that training your tendons is just as important as working on muscle strength and endurance. Our bodies “expect” a lifetime of constant, varied movement. From a very early age, most humans throughout history were constantly active. They weren’t exercising or training, per se, but they were doing all the little movements all the time that prepare the body and prime the tendons to handle heavier, more intense loads and movements: bending and squatting and walking and twisting and climbing and playing and building. It was a mechanical world. The human body was a well-oiled machine, lubed and limber from daily use and well-prepared for occasional herculean efforts. We don’t have that today. We spend most of our workday sitting, clacking away on keyboards and swiping through touch screens. Yet, we have an ingrained need for physical training written in our DNA. Some of us go from couch potato to budding powerlifter, from desk jockey to CrossFit competitor. But unlike our predecessors, we haven’t applied the lube of daily lifelong movement that makes those intense physical efforts safe. Everyone seems to be lifting weights nowadays, but few have the foundation of healthy, strong, durable connective tissue necessary for safe, effective training. Instantly download your Guide to Gut Health How to Strengthen Tendons: Training Tendons vs. Muscle The good news is, if you’re doing resistance training, you’re already training your tendons. Muscle isn’t the only thing you’re impacting when you lift heavy things, though. You’re also imposing stress on your tendons and demanding an adaptive response. They do need a more focus than you’re giving them, though. Blood carries nutrients and cells used to repair and rebuild damaged tissue. Because tendons receive less blood flow than muscle, they take a lot longer to respond to training than muscle. In one study, it took at least 2 months of training to induce structural changes in the Achilles’ tendon, including increases in collagen synthesis and collagen density. Other studies have found that it takes “weeks to months” of training to increase tendon stiffness. Meanwhile, we see structural changes to muscle tissue with just eight days of training. This basic physiological fact shouldn’t impede our progress and tissue health, but it does. What do Tendons Do? Before we make any decisions, let’s understand exactly what tendons do. Tendons and ligaments attach muscles to bones. It is through tendons that muscles transmit force and make movement possible. Contracting your muscles pulls on the tendons, which yanks on the bone, producing movement. Tendons and ligaments also provide an elastic response, a stretch-shortening recoil effect that helps you jump, run, lift heavy things, and absorb impacts. Think of it like a rubber band. Tendons have two primary properties that determine how they function: Tendon Stiffness (Tendon and Ligament Strength) Tendon stiffness sounds bad, but it refers to the strength of your tendon. Tendon stiffness is the degree to … Continue reading How to Strengthen Tendons and Ligaments for Injury Prevention