Tendons are strong structures that attach our muscles to bones (e.g. Achilles tendon). Tendinopathy is a condition in which the tendon is overloaded, causing pain, structural damage and reduced exercise capacity.
The importance of impact-exercise for kids (running, jumping, hopping, skipping) on bone health (preventing osteoporosis) is now well understood, but more recently we are appreciating the importance of early impact-activity tendon health in later life.
Tendon tissue is made up of collagen, proteins and other cells which change their structure and alignment in response to the tasks they are asked to do (amount of load going through the tendon).
Studies have shown that tendon tissue does not renew after the age of 17, suggesting that tendon structure is relatively stable after puberty. This means that if kids aren’t exposed to impact-activities that require their tendons to work hard, then as adults their tendons may have less capacity to tolerate running, jumping and hopping, putting them at risk of developing tendinopathy.
Encouraging our kids to participate in at least one form of impact exercise during puberty is an important part of keeping them healthy and injury-free in later life.
Physiotherapists are trained to effectively prevent, manage and treat tendinopathy, and we are happy to answer any questions you may have about this condition.
Rudavsky A, Cook J (2014) Physiotherapy management of patellar tendinopathy (jumper’s knee).Journal of Physiotherapy60: 122–129