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3 Weeks Tendon Healing Weakness - Maybe It Is Good To Ease Up Two Weeks Into A New Program?

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In "12 Weeks To BUDS, The complete Guide To Navy SEALS Fitness", Steward Smith mentions that:

Statistically, lower extremity injuries occur during the third week of any running program. Overuse (too much running) or improper preparation will definitely result in injuries to your shins, feet, knees, and/or hips. You should take advantage of this week and stretch well, rest, and ice your joints and shins. (...)
I thought nothing of it when I read it save that it felt like a weird statistic; it even looks like a confusion between causation and correlation...

......... until my physio mentioned this morning that there is a marked weakness in the healing of tendons/ligaments at the 3 weeks mark.
This weakness in the tissues is especially dangerous, because it often comes with a disappearance of the pain, leading to the false assumption that healing is complete.
He said that all physios know about it, and that good rehab protocols take it into account.
The temporary weakness subsides after the 3rd week and the strength of the tissue increases exponentially from there.

I do not know if there is a link between the two reported phenomena, but I cannot help to think that at the beginning of any program, there is an unusual stress placed upon tendons that might create micro injuries... these start to heal almost immediately
I might be completely off (I have not done the additional research), but it is possible that the weakness known to appear in tendons at the third week of healing is also the cause of the injuries that appear at the 3 weeks of a new running program, and maybe by extension at 3 weeks into a new training program.

It is possible that this could be caused by the weakness in the healing of the micro trauma induced by a new training program & the adaptation cycle that occurs.

All that to say that it might be valuable to ease off for a week 15 days into a new program... smile.gif

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Here it is (I still had that window opened):


The initial introduction of exercise at first does significant damage, compared to 4-8 weeks later.


The reason that the 3rd week tends to be dangerous is that your healing systems aren't up to speed, your tissues are pretty much at their most damaged state, and yet your METABOLISM has changed to the point where you can do more work! And, unsurprisingly, most people do more work. Wrong answer. You need to wait at least 4-6 weeks from the start of the program before really pushing, because by then your body has made significant structural changes in the tissues, and you will no longer be anywhere near as easy to injure.


What people don't think about is that only the tissues that actually work make these changes. That means that as you increase the intensity, and recruit new motor groups, you have to give those tissues time to catch up as well. It takes about 6-12 months to gear somebody all the way up to truly maximal training if it's done safely.


It takes several weeks for the body to get its' healing systems into top gear, and is why when I introduce true novices to exercise I do the following:


Your first week: 1 set per exercise at 80% of what you think you can do 10 reps with, two workout days, only 1-2 sets per muscle group. This will usually be assisted pull ups, flat bench, seated row, squats, deadlifts or back extensions, and 1 set of crunches or sit ups.


Second week: same as first, but 3 workout days.


Third week: They are allowed to go up to 2 sets per exercise, same reps and weight.


4th week: They are allowed to go to 90% of of what they think they can do 10 reps with, for 10 reps.


5th week: they are allowed to find their 10 rep max on their second set.


6th week: They may train to failure if desired. From here on, I advise a slow, cautious increase in weight with focus on form.

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Joshua Naterman

It's possible that there's more to it than that, but I believe that's the primary factor.

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