Tissue Tolerance: The Key To Injury Prevention

All tissues in our body have a certain level of tolerance or ability to manage a load. The level is different for each muscle, and the amount of tolerance each muscle has can depend on a variety of different factors. By understanding the concept of tissue tolerance, we can often avoid injury.

When the force is so great it tears the tendon, muscle, or bone creates an acute injury. Conversely, the breakdown can occur slowly overtime, with microtraumas to the tissues. If you are healing from an injury the tolerance of the tissue is lower. This does not mean you should stop using the injured area completely, it simply means we need to find a balance of too much or too little. It is necessary to rebuild the tolerance of those tissues in order to resume normal activities. However, recovery will progress optimally if the load/stress level is managed and progressively accumulated.

If you are starting a new activity or hoping to increase the volume of activity, it is important to consider the concept of tissue tolerance. Challenging your body so that it can adapt to the new level of activity, but not too much that you end up demanding more than the tissue can handle. As we work a muscle, whether it be through weightlifting or running or kayaking, the muscle breaks down slightly. This break down signals to the body that the tissue needs to be rebuilt to a stronger level, so that when you challenge the tissue again its ready for the extra load.

Important Tips:

    • Gradual and increasing loads over time is best to increase tissue tolerance;
    • Tissue tolerance is influenced by many factors, such as: adequate sleep, hydration, nutrition and rest;
    • Remember to gradually introduce any change, such as volume, load, change in environment (ex: running on treadmill to running outdoors), change in shoes, etc.

In summary if you exceed your tissue tolerance an injury will likely occur. A gradual increase in load, over adequate time will optimize and strengthen the tissues allowing greater tolerance in the long run!

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