T Nation

Measuring Tendon & Ligament Strength

So how can this be done? Measuring muscle strength is fairly strait forward. How many pounds can you lift?

However what is a safe and non-catastrophic way of measuring the strength of tendons and ligaments. It would seem this would be an important thing to be able to do if one wants to train in such a way as to improve the strength of those components.

I have read several different methods of training that is supposed to improve the strength of these structures but really – how do we know they are working or optimal?

The easiest (albeit indirect and approximate) way of judging relative tendon strength is again: how much weight can you lift?

[Incidentally, scientists have used the same metric, subjecting partially torn animal tendons to increasing load until they ruptured, in order to determine the degree to which smaller or larger tears affected tendon strength.]

Given that lifting heavy weights stresses the tendons, however, if you lift heavy weights too often, your tendons suffer because they don’t recover as quickly as your muscles and CNS – tendons don’t get much blood flow.

Slow and steady increases in muscular strength (weight lifted) are a surefire way to increase connective tissue strength. But when your joints get achy, it’s time to take a break from the heavy lifting.

If they are not working that means the joints are loose and the muscles rip from the bone.

Seriously though you don’t really need to measure them. A tendon is usually stronger then the muscle it attaches to (with exceptions, most notably drugs but sometimes clean training) and if it breaks you’ll know it.

Ligaments also get a training effect so they become stronger with training like we see with the cruciate ligaments of the knee and deep squats.

So to improve the strength of those components you will need to train the muscle that uses a tendon and train full ROM for the ligament.

Also, lifting poundages is actually a poor way to measure muscle strength, but thats another topic altogether.

Don’t sweat the small stuff, this isn’t an issue for anyone unless you’ve had prior injuries.

Your connective tissue gets stronger with the rest of you. Just get stronger.

The best way to test ligaments strength is to chain your feet to a heavy ass spring scale, one that can handle a ton or more, attach the scale to a telephone pull and chain your head to the car. Have one buddy drive the car, and another read the scale, when something goes, the buddy reading the scale will remember that number, and that is how strong your connective tissue is.

[quote]Scrotus wrote:
The best way to test ligaments strength is to chain your feet to a heavy ass spring scale, one that can handle a ton or more, attach the scale to a telephone pull and chain your head to the car. Have one buddy drive the car, and another read the scale, when something goes, the buddy reading the scale will remember that number, and that is how strong your connective tissue is. [/quote]

You mean “was”.

[quote]Scrotus wrote:
The best way to test ligaments strength is to chain your feet to a heavy ass spring scale, one that can handle a ton or more, attach the scale to a telephone pull and chain your head to the car. Have one buddy drive the car, and another read the scale, when something goes, the buddy reading the scale will remember that number, and that is how strong your connective tissue is. [/quote]

Hmmm. This is why I asked:

“However what is a safe and non-catastrophic way…”

But I have no doubt your method to be effective.

[quote]mmllcc wrote:
Scrotus wrote:
The best way to test ligaments strength is to chain your feet to a heavy ass spring scale, one that can handle a ton or more, attach the scale to a telephone pull and chain your head to the car. Have one buddy drive the car, and another read the scale, when something goes, the buddy reading the scale will remember that number, and that is how strong your connective tissue is.

Hmmm. This is why I asked:

“However what is a safe and non-catastrophic way…”

But I have no doubt your method to be effective.

[/quote]

Hey, are you actually expecting me to read anything past the title? Damn what do I look like, some kind of reading machine or something.
I think that actually worrying about tendon strength would bring on injuries. Billy Mimnaugh had an article kind of about it on EliteFTS.
Nothing wrong with being curious though, and probably your maximum voluntary strength, if you are experienced in a particular lift, would be pretty near the limit of your tendon strength for at least some of the smaller tendons in the chain. Lots of PL pop tendons off and tear muscles, which would probably be their limit.

[quote]Scrotus wrote:

Hey, are you actually expecting me to read anything past the title? Damn what do I look like, some kind of reading machine or something.
I think that actually worrying about tendon strength would bring on injuries. Billy Mimnaugh had an article kind of about it on EliteFTS.
Nothing wrong with being curious though, and probably your maximum voluntary strength, if you are experienced in a particular lift, would be pretty near the limit of your tendon strength for at least some of the smaller tendons in the chain. Lots of PL pop tendons off and tear muscles, which would probably be their limit.
[/quote]

Yeah – I ask though not because I am worried about developing it. I just read a lot of articles, on T-Nation and other places, claiming that such and such protocol develops tendon strength specifically. Such as this recent article under Section 4:
http://www.T-Nation.com/article/bodybuilding/beast_building_part_1&cr=
I just wonder how they measure that.

Say you lift 100 pounds one week and then 200 pounds the next week. Well your tendons may have gotten stronger – but then it may have just been your muscles. Or say you do 100 air squats one week and 200 the next…well that is high rep, as described in the article, so how do we know if it helped make the tendons stronger as Christian and the Eastern Europeans claim it does?

Or say I get a tendon injury…well it may be safe to say my muscle is stronger…so now how do I make sure my tendon gets stronger and that doesn’t happen again? What is the best training protocol after rehabilitation?

I say we don’t know-- I think this is an area that we know little about despite some trainer’s claims because really we can’t measure it…not to say the trainers are wrong. I am just saying they lack a definitive metric in this realm.

I think if you go from 100 lbs to 200 lbs in a week either, send me a sample of whatever you are useing, or its probably just better neural efficiency. So you are getting closer to your limit strength, while probably not there yet.

I think the High rep stuff helps because it helps get blood to the tendons, which dont get much, and that helps with a more effective, faster recovery, but I dont think that is going to help without large forces acting on the tendons (heavy weights, or ballistic movements-dont do them both at the same time).