Objectives: To examine the effects of running and swimming exercises on the functional performance and mechanical strength of a recovering Achilles tendon.
Methods: 30 Sprague-Dawley rats had surgical transection of their right medial Achilles tendon. The rats were divided into running (n = 11), swimming (n = 10), and control (n = 9) groups. The running and swimming groups were given daily exercise training, starting from the fifth day after the injury; the control group did not exercise throughout the period of the experiment. An Achilles functional index (AFI) was recorded before the operation and on the third, 10th, and 30th days after the operation. On the 30th day, the rats were killed and their Achilles tendons harvested for biomechanical testing of load relaxation properties, stiffness, and ultimate tensile strength (UTS). The AFI data were analysed by two way analysis of variance; load relaxation, stiffness, and UTS data were analysed by multivariate analysis, with α at 0.05.
Results: The UTS of the running group was higher than in the control group (p = 0.015), while there was no significant difference between the swimming and control groups (p = 0.228). Differences in stiffness and load relaxation were non-significant (p = 0.823 and 0.633, respectively). The AFI results did not differ among the three groups (p = 0.242).
Conclusions: Running exercises can improve the strength of partially ruptured Achilles tendons at 30 days after injury.
- AFI, Achilles functional index
- UTS, ultimate tensile strength
- Achilles tendon
- tendon healing
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