Here is a story that we are hearing weekly these days.
Patient: I ran over the weekend and I didn’t realize it was so humid. My run went really well but my achilles tendon has been on fire ever since.
Therapist: "How much water did you drink this weekend?"
Patient: "2 cups of coffee and 1 bottle of beer"
Most runners don’t realize it but there is a serious correlation between hydration and tendon health. Tendon is made of two things, less than 50% is protein and more that 50% is WATER! Tendons attach each muscle to a bone and their most important job is to store and transfer force that allow you to run.
A study published in Nature Communications studied the changes in tendons with and without loading and varying levels of hydration. Using X-ray and commuter systems, they were able to see how the proteins reacted to tensile forces with different amounts of water molecules.
When tendons are not well hydrated, the proteins shortened, become harder, and don’t translate forces as well as when they are hydrated. Also, when the tendons are dehydrated, they don’t glide over surrounding structures as well as when the tendon is hydrated. This causes irritation and inflammation to the area and will usually result in tendinitis.
Want to prevent tendinitis (especially in the achilles), drink a lot of water! It’s as easy as that!
Basic, Admir et. at. Osmotic pressure induced tensile forces in tendon collagen. Nature Communications. Jan 2015. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms6942
Kathleen Leninger, DPT