Looking to shed a few pounds after the festive season? Many people’s New Years resolutions involve some form of gym activity.  Here are our tips on how to reduce your chances of a tendon injury when you hit the gym.

Quantity – One of the biggest risk factors for tendon pain is an increase in the total amount of work done. An example of this would be performing multiple repetitions and multiple sets of particular exercise, for example, 6 sets of 10 repetitions. If you are unaccustomed to the gym it is safer and better to start at say 3 sets of 8-10 repetitions and to work up gradually from there.

Intensity – This is the amount of physical power that the body uses when performing an activity.  As a general rule tendons can cope with slow heavy exercises well but problems arise when explosive pylometric forces are incorporated too soon into training.  For example performing box jumps and jumping squats is a lot harder for tendons than squats and lunges.

Frequency – This is the number of times you train per week. Typically people return to the gym and look to go most days to get fitter quicker. Unfortunately this often leads to injury as training more than 4 times per week increases injury by 40%. Your body needs 24 hours between sessions for tissues to recover so take a day off between training days.

Variety – Most tendon pain is due to the repetitive nature of loading.  If you perform the same exercise with the same weights over and over again it will overload tissues quickly.  Mix up your training using different exercises and splitting your training into lower body and upper body segments. This will not only help to avoid tendon pain, but will also make for a much more interesting work out.

Sudden Changes – The biggest principle that underpins all of the above is sudden changes in people’s function.  Tendons and most tissues in the body require 12 weeks to adapt.  Tendons don’t like sudden changes (see our news story about this). If you push too hard and fast there is a considerable risk of developing tendon pain.  Always introduce exercises gradually.

We wish you all the best with your New Year’s resolutions to get fitter and more active.  We hope that all will go well, but if you are struggling with a gym injury, then do get in touch with us for specialist assessment and treatment of your problem so that you can get back to those resolutions quickly!