Q: Is there a way to increase tendon strength to help avoid injury?
A: Extensive research shows that eccentric, or negative, training can increase tendon strength because it promotes collagen production. Tendons have a slow metabolic rate with limited blood supply, making them very slow to heal. Eccentric movements will stimulate blood flow, promote tendon healing and activate mechanoreceptors in the cells of the tendon, increasing tendon strength.
Eccentrics will also lengthen the muscle-tendon unit, increasing range of motion or flexibility around a joint. For example, eccentric training is commonly used to rehabilitate, strengthen and lengthen the Achilles tendon.
If you’re new to eccentric training, begin by manipulating tempo with a four-second eccentric phase and a one-second concentric phase. You can vary the tempo to use a longer negative and an explosive concentric motion.
Editor’s note: Charles Poliquin is recognized as one of the world’s most suc-cessful strength coaches, having coached Olympic med-alists in 12 different sports, including the U.S. women’s track-and-field team for the 2000 Olympics. He’s spent years researching European journals (he’s fluent in English, French and German) and speaking with other coaches and scientists in his quest to optimize training methods. For more on his books, seminars and methods, visit www.CharlesPoliquin.com. Also, see his ad on page 155. IM