Cycling injuries – treating tendinopathy

The Tour de France is almost done for another year, and with the riders covering a total of 3540km it’s no wonder that there’s room for injury.

We’re not talking about the impact of that much cycling on your legs or some of the nasty crashes we’ve seen so far – in this case we want to look at the impact of that much repetitive peddling.

The injury we want to look at is called patellar tendinopathy and refers to a tendinopathy of the patellar tendon.

So what does that actually mean?

Patellar tendinopathy is essentially a structural change to the tendon which sits just below the knee and connects to the top of your shin-bone.

It happens as a result of being repetitively strained with not enough rest – this is because tendons take longer to adapt to training than muscles thanks to their poorer blood supply.

If you start training or increase the volume dramatically your body tries to help out by laying down new ‘fibres’ and this can lead to a slightly thickened tendon with a less uniform structure.

Think of a normal tendon like a perfectly built wall with everything in the right place to ensure it stays strong. The problem with patellar tendinopathy is the equivalent of a wall built with whatever is at hand first. The latter is a far weaker structure and, in the case of a tendon, far less efficient at being an elastic, which is basically the role of a tendon.

How do we treat a tendinopathy?

First we need start with some slow, ‘heavy’ loading – doing an exercise such as these split squats. 

A couple of sets of 10 but only twice a week – this ensures the tendon has plenty of time to remodel the pathological internal structure. Heavy should also be relative to you – the maximum you can lift while maintaining technique.

More often than not you can keep cycling while treatment takes place – though you might need to cut back for a little while. We would rarely advise stopping your sport completely unless it’s absolutely necessary.

If you’re worried about pain in the knee and shin area and think it might be tendinopathy just get in touch with the team here.


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