Tendons connect muscle to bone, transmitting muscular effort into skeletal motion. Normally, these dense bands of fibrous connective tissues are plenty strong enough to withstand the loading of each stride. But injured tendons do not heal well. Inflammation subsides slowly and scarring proliferates, leading to permanent lameness. A rider's choice of riding techniques and conditions can have critical effects on tendon health. Which of the following situations raise(s) the risk for tendon injury?
a. sudden increase in performance demand
b. uneven footing
c. deep or muddy footing
d. sudden, jolting stops
All of the above. Tendons not sufficiently strengthened by progressive training are unable to withstand upward leaps in work demand. Uneven and slippery footing sets the stage for missteps, while deep going greatly increases the workload of the tendons. Finally, hard, jolting stops override the limbs' shock-absorbing system to the detriment of the tendons. Whatever the specific source of the strain may be, the breakdown of tendon fibers and resulting inflammation are the common causes of tendon failure.
This article appeared in the January 2002 issue of EQUUS magazine.