Tendon Strengthening Protocol Every Runner Should Follow
Do you suffer from sore knees, shins, ankles or hips? Is it stopping you from running? You are not alone. Tendon issues are widespread amongst runners, no matter if you are a weekend warrior or a top athlete.
Good news is that, no matter what age, you can train your tendons to become stronger and less prone to injury BUT… you need to be patient and persistent. While you can see structural changes to your muscles in only eight days (1), it can take weeks to months of training to increase tendon strength (2). For example, it will take at least two months of training to produce structural changes in the Achilles’ tendon, including increased collagen synthesis and collagen density (3). This is because tendons receive less blood flow than muscle and blood delivers the nutrients and satellite cells used to repair and rebuild damaged tissue.
The most recent research also suggests that collagen supplementation could improve various joint issues as well as prevent injuries and aid post-injury recovery. Published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a study found that supplementation with 15g of vitamin C enriched gelatin (partially hydrolyzed collagen) one hour before a specific tendon-training program has to lead to a doubled collagen synthesis in the targeted tendons (4). Other studies found improved connective tissue structure and function and reduced pain with just 10g of gelatin ingested 30-60min pre-workout. The collagen synthesis started to accelerate four hours post workout and maintained for up to 72 hours!!! (5).
A healthy diet is as crucial as a specific tendon strength training protocol. If your diet consists of processed/sugary foods and alcohol, there’s no amount of supplements that can save you from sore and injury-prone joints.
Tendon Training Protocol
- 5-10 min per area/joint
- 6 hours before or after any training if you are not injured. Have 10-15g of collagen 30-60min before the session then 6 hours complete rest.
- If injured, 3 sessions per day spaced by 6 hours (i.e. 6 am, 12 pm, 6 pm with full rest between). It only takes 5min! Supplement with 5-10g of collagen before each of the three sessions. Or at least before two of them. Chief Collagen Bars contain 13g of collagen per bar, which makes it the best pre-workout snack.
- Slow movements with no weight or lightweights
Top 3 exercises:
3x10-15 each leg
Heel drops are the most effective exercise to prevent and treat shin splints and Achilles tendon issues.
Single Leg Eccentric and Isometric Squats With Fitball
3x10-15 squats on each leg with 20-40s hold in the squatted position at the end of the last repetition.
The single leg eccentric and isometric squat with a fitball is the best exercise to prevent and treat Patellar Tendinopathy. It’s also great for your Gluteus Medius strength.
Single Leg Deadlifts
3x 10-15 each leg holding two dumbbells or kettlebells. You can go quite heavy on this exercise if you are not injured.
The best exercise for increasing hip strength and ankle/knee/hip stability.
5. Baar, K., (2015). TRAINING AND NUTRITION TO PREVENT SOFT TISSUE INJURIES AND ACCELERATE RETURN TO PLAY. Sports Science Exchange 28(142): 1-6.
Single leg squats with fitball
Single leg dead lift