21 Jun Managing your healthy tendons when returning to the gym
Lockdown regulations are different depending on your region, but one day you will be able to return to gym and continue working on your running performance. In Melbourne, gyms are open tomorrow, so I would like to post this blog to remind you about a safe transition back into the gym, with a focus on tendon pathology.
Mindful of weight: This might be the most obvious variable but increasing the weight on exercises such as calf raises, squats & lunges could increase your risk of injury. If you have not loaded up your legs in weeks or months, start conservatively and build back up over the course of 2-3 weeks. My advice for your first session back is 70% of the weight you were lifting before lockdown. Every subsequent week should add 10% until you are back to 100%. Individual circumstance may lead to different advice & the presence of injury may change dosages and time frames.
Range of movement: This refers to structures like the hamstring tendon, achilles and plantar fascia. It might take some time for the tendon to get back to tolerating heavier load through full range of movement. At the end of your range, the tendon will undergo ‘compression’ which is an element that leads to tendinopathy. So, during exercises like deadlifts, squats, calf raises on a step & weighted step ups, spending 2-3 weeks at 75-80% range of movement will keep your tendons in a safer zone before you slowly introduce full range.
Speed: This can apply for resistance exercises or rapid body weight exercises. A tendon might be happy with a certain weight and rep range during a slow deadlift but can change to being unhappy if all variables stay the same but speed has increased. The demands on the tendons skyrocket when speed is introduced to a certain exercise. Keep this in mind and over the first few weeks of your working, keep good technique and slow down.
You may need to be more careful or conservative if managing an injury or have a long history of tendon complaints. On a positive note, all runners should be strength training. It has been shown to improve performance and help with running economy no matter what distance you are training for. Best of luck with your return.