Tendons are like Ropes

Think of your hammock in the back yard. Each end of the hammock is securely attached to trees by a rope. When you lay in the hammock the extra weight is transferred from the hammock to the trees by the ropes. Both the ropes and trees are certainly strong enough to hold your weight.

Let's say you were lying in the hammock and started swaying side to side. The ropes would start to rub on the tree and a few fibers would fray. A few fibers are not a big deal because you used a strong rope. But what if you swayed for 30 minutes a day for a month? How many more fibers would be frayed? What if you did it for two months? When do you think the rope would become damaged enough that it would be unsafe to continue swaying? Let's face it, some of us will keep swaying until the rope breaks and then wonder what happened. Hitting the ground hard won't be fun, but that's what will eventually happen if you keep pushing your luck.

While lying on the grass you might ponder your situation. You didn't do anything different today that you hadn't done the last three months. Why did it break? Today was just the last straw. I always remind people of the saying the straw that broke the camel's back. We ignore all the other straw and focus on the last bit of straw we placed on the last day.

A smart individual would have fixed the rope at the earliest signs of fraying, or taken steps to decrease future fraying. But we won't talk about them.

Tendon Injuries

We have broken rope that we need to worry about. Hammock rope is a great analogy for tendons. Tendons are the body's rope for transferring muscle pulling power from the muscle to bones. The muscles produce the force to pull bones and move joints, and that force is transmitted through tendons.

Just like rope, tendons can fray with repeated stress. The body tries to heal the fraying tendons, but sometimes we are breaking down fibers faster than they can be repaired. Eventually this process will lead to tendinitis or tendinosis injuries.

Treating Tendon Injuries

Treatment is always focused at repairing tendons, but extra steps need to be taken to reduce wear and tear on tendons and joints. If we can do things to reduce future fraying, then tendons will last longer before becoming injured again.

The moral of the story is take care of fraying tendons early, and don't wait for them to break. However, when you fray them eventually you will have to deal with them. There are numerous treatments for specific tendinosis and tendinitis. Some of them are discussed in grater detail on Plantar Fasciitis, IT Band, Achilles Injury pages.

Chronic Tendon Injuries

Chronic tendon injuries often develop fascial adhesions or scar tissue. Scar tissue is like duct tape for the body. It will use scar tissue as a quick and cheap patch to get through a few days. The body's intention is to replace the scar tissue as quickly as possible, but in some injuries the scar tissue continues to accumulate. This large patch of scar tissue ventually leads to a structurally weak area and causes chronic tendon injuries. Graston Technique is one of the procedures we use to get rid of scar tissue. Find out more about ScarTissue Treatment.