Tendinopathy is a common musculoskeletal injury whose treatment is limited by ineffective therapeutic interventions. Previously we have shown that tendons ineffectively repair early sub-rupture fatigue damage. In contrast, physiological exercise has been shown to promote remodeling of healthy tendons but its utility as a therapeutic to promote repair of fatigue damaged tendons remains unknown. Therefore, the objective of this study was to assess the utility of exercise initiated 1 and 14 days after onset of fatigue damage to promote structural repair in fatigue damaged tendons. We hypothesized that exercise initiated 14 days after fatigue loading would promote remodeling as indicated by a decrease in area of collagen matrix damage, increased procollagen I and decorin, while decreasing proteins indicative of tendinopathy. Rats engaged in 6-week exercise for 30-‰min/day or 60-‰min/day starting 1 or 14 days after fatigue loading. Initiating exercise 1-day after onset of fatigue injury led to exacerbation of matrix damage, particularly at the tendon insertion. Initiating exercise 14 days after onset of fatigue injury led to remodeling of damaged regions in the midsubstance and collagen synthesis at the insertion. Physiological exercise applied after the initial biological response to injury has dampened can potentially promote remodeling of damaged tendons.
- Tendon damage