The structure of the body depends largely on the bone while muscles give the shape and ability to move and withstand force. However obvious it may appear; the bones do not directly attach themselves to muscles. The strength of bones and the nature of their movement goes beyond depending on the bones and muscles alone. The bones do not connect without the active participation of ligaments.(1) Ligaments connect one bone to the other. Tendons connect the muscles to the bones. Based on their nature, both ligaments and tendons comprise connective tissues made of a structural protein commonly known as collagen fiber. Ligaments join bones, keep them steady and protect them. Tendons help the movement of the limbs as they can influence muscles for movement.
The smooth movement of the body depends on the healthy bone, ligaments attaching them, and the muscles responsible for exerting force for contraction and extension of the same. There are many reasons responsible for damaging ligaments and tendons. A sudden awkward movement of the body often damages ligaments.(1,2) A forceful twist of the body involving bone joints can cause damage to the ligaments. The most common causes of damaging the tendons are aging and continued wear and tear due to excessive use of the tendons. Sometimes over-work done awkwardly may severely damage the ligaments and tendons. Even weak ligaments and tendons can become increasingly vulnerable towards injuries and damage. Thus, it is very important to strengthen the ligaments and tendons to avoid an injury, sprain or strain.
How to Strengthen Ligaments and Tendons?
While damage to ligaments and tendons can lead to serious consequences such as sprain and tendonitis.(3) There are ways to keep ligaments and tendons safe while growing them stronger and stable. Below are some of the measures effective in this context:(4,5)
- Consumption of Vitamin C-enriched Hydrolyzed Collagen to Strengthen Ligaments and Tendons: The consumption of vitamin C-enriched hydrolyzed collagen increases the synthesis of collagen by almost two folds. Vitamin C plays the role of a positive catalyst while massively increasing collagen synthesis. The availability of collagen when needed especially after intense exercises help the ligaments and tendons become stronger and durable.
- Exercise to Strengthen Ligaments and Tendons: Regular exercise can greatly help in strengthening the ligaments and tendons. Deadlifts, walking, pushups are a few of the very effective exercises that can strengthen the ligaments and tendons of the human body. Deadlifts can add extra strength to the knees and pelvic regions. Walking is great for strengthening the knee joints while bearing the body weight. Pushups show very reliable results when performed to strengthen muscles and tendons adjoining the shoulder area. Volume increasing exercises, polymerics, partial reps, and explosive isometrics prove very effective in adding more strength to tendons and ligaments.
- Long-term Action Plan and Dedication required to Strengthen Ligaments and Tendons: It is important to realize that increasing the strengths of tendons and ligaments is not a quick job. It needs time and the body changes according to the needs demanded from the tendons and ligaments concerned. Athletes take up long-term plans to increase the strength of their tendons and ligaments.(2) In the beginning, the work seems too heavy to sustain when after about a month, things start improving with the enhanced strength received. After about two months things improve by far and become a lot easier than before. When another month completes and the duration reaches three months, the same challenge which earlier felt impossible becomes very easy. This way the body prepares its muscles, tendons, and ligaments for higher loads and becomes stronger than ever before.
- Stretching Exercises to Strengthen Ligaments and Tendons: Stretching is very useful when used with patience and consistency. Front squat, Pectoral stretch, and Calf stretch are the three major stretching programs found very effective in enhancing the strength of ligaments and tendons.(1)
- Front Squat: It can deliver other benefits like strengthening the lower half of the body, enhancing the core body strength, and helping prevent injuries too.
- Pectoral Stretch: It can strengthen the upper half of the body including strengthening the chest. It helps push heavy things.
- Calf Stretch: Calf stretch is very useful to improve the ability of walking and standing, turning movements more flexible, and healing the adverse impacts on muscles from exercise.
Benefits of Strengthening Ligaments and Tendons
The role of tendons and ligaments in the human body is immense and failing to pay proper attention to them leads to serious consequences with reduced movements. Hence, taking up adequate measures is indispensable to keep them healthy while growing stronger. Tendons help protect against muscle injury when the body engages itself in running, walking and such other movements. Exercises of different types and extent are useful while consumption of vitamin C-enriched hydrolyzed collagen proves quite useful in protecting them.(2,5) Apart from athletes and sportsmen, common people also need to be aware of the significance of the role of the two aforesaid connective tissues and act likewise.
- Bahr R, Alfredson H, Järvinen M, Järvinen T, Khan K, Kjær M, Matheson G, Mæhlum S. Types and Causes of Injuries. In Bahr. R. The IOC Manual of Sports Injuries: An Illustrated Guide to the Management of Injuries in Physical Activity. Wiley Blackwell. 2012. p 1-24.
- DeLee JC, et al. Injury prevention. In: DeLee & Drez’s Orthopaedic Sports Medicine: Principles and Practice. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2015.