UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Foundational Principles and Adaptation of the Healthy and Pathological Achilles Tendon in Response to Resistance Exercise: A Narrative Review and Clinical Implications Merry, Kohle; Napier, Christopher; Waugh, Charlie M.; Scott, Alex

Abstract

Therapeutic exercise is widely considered a first line fundamental treatment option for managing tendinopathies. As the Achilles tendon is critical for locomotion, chronic Achilles tendinopathy can have a substantial impact on an individual’s ability to work and on their participation in physical activity or sport and overall quality of life. The recalcitrant nature of Achilles tendinopathy coupled with substantial variation in clinician-prescribed therapeutic exercises may contribute to suboptimal outcomes. Further, loading the Achilles tendon with sufficiently high loads to elicit positive tendon adaptation (and therefore promote symptom alleviation) is challenging, and few works have explored tissue loading optimization for individuals with tendinopathy. The mechanism of therapeutic benefit that exercise therapy exerts on Achilles tendinopathy is also a subject of ongoing debate. Resultingly, many factors that may contribute to an optimal therapeutic exercise protocol for Achilles tendinopathy are not well described. The aim of this narrative review is to explore the principles of tendon remodeling under resistance-based exercise in both healthy and pathologic tissues, and to review the biomechanical principles of Achilles tendon loading mechanics which may impact an optimized therapeutic exercise prescription for Achilles tendinopathy.

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CC BY 4.0