Tendons- Strength and recovery. Looking for info

I have been doing my own research on this subject for some time. I have yet to find definitive answers to my specific questions.

My Background:

I train with the number one armwrestler in the world Devon Larratt and our club in Ottawa. I am constantly trying to study and develop optimum training and recovery programs for the club. It is difficult because there has been nothing I have found that relate directly to what we do.

Basically, armwrestling strength boils down to tendon strength. Without going into the mechanics and techniques, it really is very reliant on this strength more than anything else.

Therefore the goal is to damage, inflame, lay collagen down and repair... (if I'm not mistaken).

I am looking for the most optimum and efficient way to do this.

My questions are:

1. I avoid glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM and NSAID's because of the anti-inflammatory propeties. If I understand correctly, tendons need inflammation in order to trigger the release of collagen. If the goal is strength and thickening of the tendons is avoiding these the right thing to do?

2. If my tendons are damaged from a good workout.. is the trigger to release collagen done one time (ie. right away) or is it done on a daily basis? For instance if it requires 100 units of collagen on day 1 of recovery, does it all get released right away or would it be relesed over time? My reason for asking this is... If it all gets released right away then I could in fact take anti inflammatories on day 2 if no more collagen is going to be released and commence with training earlier. Conversly, I would not take anti-inflammatories if collagen were still being released daily to strengthen tendons.

3. Are there any supplements to aid in releasing collagen or strengthening/repairing tendons?

4. Are static or dynamic type workouts the best for building tendon strength? Or a mixture of both?


The goal as stated is maximum strength and thickening of the tendons for purposes of armwrestling. Along with that is the optimum recovery process so we can do it all over again. I realize the goals are simple but the answers may not be. Any information that I can gather on this subject will be invaluable. Any reference materials (links) would also be an asset. Thank you for taking the time to read and offer suggestions/answers.

John Milne
Ottawa High Hookers Armwrestling Club
Ontario, Canada



DrSquat's picture

Having a hard time

Having a hard time understanding your reticence to use glucosamine. It is the rate-limiting step in the formation of new collagen. Given your stated goals, it should be a staple in your supplementation program. Also, "jerk" training is shown to aid in improving tendon strength. This method is as old as the hills, but I have found it to be quire effective.

Giving my best shot at answring...

1. The body ALWAYS PRODUCES an inflammation response that is sufficient. I can already see arguments coming in on this, but I've studied the inflammation response quite a bit. As long as your nutrition is as it should be (omega 6s go a long way in helping the inflammation response), then you're always going to get enough inflammation no matter what you do. You're looking for ways to stop excessive inflammation, as this is what improves recovery.

In one of my course books I've written that you can imagine inflammation as your body's gas peddle, and the anti-inflammation as your body's brake peddle. But in the case of affecting a muscle ability to change, even if you took all those supplements you just mentioned, you still have enough "go" response, so you're not dampening that down any.

And before anyone argues with that, links or it didn't happen.


2. My only hope here... we know that the body takes a while to recover. Sometimes several days, sometimes more. So by that logic, if its still recovering after several days, I think the materials needed for recovery are gradually released. BUT! A majority of them are released in the first hour post-exercise.

I'm like 95% sure.

And I dont see how anti-inflammatories could stop this process, since science has proven that they IMPROVE the process!

3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collagen

From the site:

A distinctive feature of collagen is the regular arrangement of amino acids in each of the three chains of these collagen subunits. The sequence often follows the pattern Gly-Pro-Y or Gly-X-Hyp, where X and Y may be any of various other amino acid residues. Proline or hydroxyproline constitute about 1/6 of the total sequence. With Glycine accounting for the 1/3 of the sequence, this means that approximately half of the collagen sequence is not glycine, proline or hydroxyproline

Ok, but the other half IS either glycine, proline, or hydroxyproline. So take those aminos then! Along with other protein, you'll probably get what you're after.

At least I hope.

4. Well a mixture of both. Duh. Come on that was easy. Of course you need to train according to the athletes needs. Isometrics are clearly needed by the Law of SAID and Specificity. But then you need dynamic training for the same reasons. Since maximal static training can be REAL tough on the CNS, I would put it towards the end of the training cycle.


Week 1
- Normal dynamic training
Week 2
- Explosive dynamic training
Week 3
- Explosive dynamic training, some negative / isometric training.
Week 4
- Isometrics, heavy negatives, duration concentrics

Then you do maintenance/support work for 2 weeks or so, and come back after that. Repeat! I'm sure you can change some of what I said by putting this here or that there, but the basic idea is the same.

Ok I did my best to answer! Did it help?

First I'd like to reply to

First I'd like to reply to the Dr.

Thank you for taking the time to reply to my question. My reluctance to take glucosamine was because of its anti-inflammatory properties. I wanted to make sure that it didn't hinder my gains. The latest reply answered that for me.

Secondly to Kid Icarus. That was an amazing answer and you helped me a great deal. I have found this topic very difficult to research and this is by far the best answer I have ever read. Thank you so much for taking the time to offer such a complete reply. The information you have given me will be used well and will help myself and my team really take it to the next level! Thank you!

tendon recovery


Thanks for the post and thanks to the Dr and KidI for the responses. I train with some national level armwrestlers in Illinois and have been wondering some of the same things. The answers from the experienced guys is always that it takes a long time and you have to pull consistently. Usually my tendons/ligaments are sore for at least a few days after a practice. Reducing the recovery time would be a wonderful thing.

There is so little good information available for armwrestling out there and much is simply taken from word of mouth (no science whatsoever). If you do a search on olympic lifting or powerlifting, you can pull up 100 routines and scientific papers in seconds. Unfortunately with armwrestling its always "I pull once a week and hit the weight room 1-2 times a week". I would love to see an armwrestling specific program that addresses the tendons, ligaments, and hand/wrist strength.


im no armwrestler

Hey there, im no armwrestler. But am a very serious climber... i've spent alot of years training and working to improve tendon strength.

Im not quite sure what sort of regime an armwrestler works but have you guys ever thought about using a hang board to improve overall contact strength and tendon thickness/strength.

I always joke that if i were to get in a fight that person would be screwed if my hands clamped on someones throat.

Anyways, about the collagen question - since my grade levels in climbing have drastically increased over the past few years (an obvious sign of tendon strength increase) I thought i could add to the discussion.

I ALWAYS take an anti inflammatory an hour after tendon/hang training workouts, along with a post meal. It helps alot!! As well as cold therapy treatment - meaning i take a pot of cold water, add enough ice cubes to cover the surface and submerge my hand (so that my wrist is about 1/2 in. below the surface) for 2/3 intervals of 10-12 minutes with a 5 minute rest phase in between. The ice cubes on top need to completely cover the surface because i've found that that extra bit of cold really helps when its directly on your wrists. It works wonders...


Todd Wilson's picture

Tendons develop an respond

Tendons develop an respond to training in a similar way as do the musculature itself. I.e., it adapts to the imposed demands. The more intense the training, the stronger tendons typically become. The more volume use, the more they tend to become able to handle said volume.

With regards to specifically arm wrestling... Other than becoming stronger overall and then getting specific work with regards to the techniques involved in arm wrestling.... I'm not sure there is a specific way to train for it as there would be, say powerlifting or even Football.

Pete Read's picture

Yes, technique and

Yes, technique and practicing arm wrestling itself. The guys that get strong with weights and then jump into armwrestling are the ones that break their arms. John brzenk said he only uses weights to get the blood into the muscle and for better recuperation. I watched the documentary "Pulling John". He was only doing pullups with bodyweight. Although, the Russian that beat him was doing one arm chins at around 250lbs bodyweight.