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Medical Can tendons be strengthened/grown in the same way muscles can be?

  1. Jul 13, 2012 #1
    I like rock climbing and a large part of this is fingertip grip strength. I know that fingers don't have much muscle, and are largely controlled by tendons.

    If I do fingertip squeezes with a gripmaster type device, can I expect my tendons to grow stronger? Would this result in thicker tendons?

    I know there are muscles involved, and these undoubtedly can get stronger, but I'm curious about training tendons.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 13, 2012 #2
    Yeah sure, the basis of several martial arts involve it
  4. Jul 13, 2012 #3
    Which ones, and how so?

    Are you saying that doing resistance exercises will strengthen my tendons just like with my muscles?
  5. Jul 14, 2012 #4
    Look at the karate fighters who break boards and bricks without any broken bones or bruises. To do that your muscles and bones have to move fast and in unison. Your tendons are trained to make that possible.
  6. Jul 14, 2012 #5
    I don't think that's evidence of tendon strengthening. I know fighters will hit their shins to increase calcification and "hardness" of the shin. This definitely helps avoid injury. I haven't heard much about tendon strength.
  7. Jul 14, 2012 #6
    If you want to build grip strength do snatch grip deadlifts
  8. Jul 16, 2012 #7
    1. I tend to think of tendons as less elastic muscles... In the sense that tendons join muscles to bone. Tendons are basically thickened epimysium, the membrane that surrounds muscle. Problems in the tendons (e.g. tendinitis also called tendonitis by some) are actually often problem with excessive tightness in the muscles.

    2. Martial arts. I have often had to do finger tip press-ups to strengthen my fingers and hands. Very hard to do and my phalanges would move around in all sorts of directions.

    3. Even if you cannot strengthen a tendon, you can strengthen muscles. Moreover, ligaments and tendons can be tighter (think body builders) or quite lax (think runners). So it would make sense that strength training would actually cause something like strengthened or tighter tissues in general (muscle, tendons and even ligaments). They all work together in the body.

    Hope this helps.

  9. Jul 16, 2012 #8


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    I'm coming at this from the point of view of piano playing rather than martial arts, but the tendons are basically just "connecting wire" between the muscle and what it operates.

    In the hand, the complication is that you have muscles (in our arm) connected to several different tendons. What you can do is train the muscle to work the tendons more indepedently. For example if you put your hand palm down flat on a table, and try to lift your fingers off the table one at a time, you wll probably find that is fairly easy with your 1st 2nd and little fingers, but not with the other finger, because in normal life you don't often make that movement and the tendons for the last two fingers tend to work together.

    The same applies to trying to move your fingers sideways, one at a time. You will probably find your performance on that test varies between different fingers (and between your hands unless you are ambidextrous) from pretty good, through horribly uncoordinated, to "fail".

    I don't know about rock climbing, but it you work at exercises to get the maximum amount of independent movement of your fingers you will probably increase your maximum strength as well, because you are learning to use all the muscle you have, not just parts of it.

    Be careful with this though - there is a danger of overdoing the exercise and getting RSI or tendonitis.
  10. Jul 16, 2012 #9
    There are srength sports based around various types of hand and wrist strength. Checkout www.gripboard.com and you will find a whole community dedicated to this pursuit. There are a few brands of heavy duty grippers made for certification as well as devices for pinch lifts, steel bending and levering. Its a ton of fun and one of the types of strength training that you will notice everyday in your life.
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