Resistance Training by Darragh Bolton
What is resistance training and why it helps us to get better?
If you have had any type of injury and attended a physiotherapist you would have been advised to do some exercises. Your physiotherapist may have referred to these exercises as strength training or resistance training. But when exactly does that mean and how can they make you better? Many years ago, we thought that bed rest was the cure for injury, but we now know this not to be the case. In fact, we now know that bed rest and immobility can also prolong the injury, something we most certainly do not want.
So what is resistance training?
Resistance training is any exercise that causes the muscles to contract against an external resistance with the expectation of increases in strength, power, hypertrophy (muscle size) and/or endurance.
The external resistance can be dumbbells, exercise tubing, your own body weight, water (swimming pool) or any other object that causes the muscles to contract.
Why does this help us get better when injured?
When we injure a muscle, ligament, or tendon we cause a bit of the fibres in these structures to slightly tear and or become inflamed. This causes pain and reduced function, thus for a period these structures are weakened. By putting resistance through these structures, we can
1) decrease the pain and
2) over time increase the strength.
Resistance through tissue (muscle, ligament, tendon) therefore makes the structures more able to deal with the load it may need to tolerate. By not completing resistance training, those torn fibres will take a lot longer to regain their strength and function.
In many studies it has been shown that early mobilisation promotes earlier recovery time compared to prolonged bed rest.
Is resistance training safe?
Yes. Resistance training has been shown to be safe and very much advised when injured but also, and maybe more importantly, when you’re not injured as it can reduce the risk of injury in everyone. Resistance training has also been shown to benefit all age groups including children. That being said, resistance training is advised to be completed in a structured way under the guidance of a health professional, such as your Chartered Physiotherapist.
Is resistance training complicated?
No. A great acronym I use is KISS which stands for Keep It Super Simple. I like to give simple exercises that the patient can achieve and understand.
This way I feel the rehab exercises will be completed more times than not. Resistance training certainly can and does get more complex regarding the progression of the plan however that’s for the physiotherapist to worry about.
Resistance training is needed for the recovery of an injury as it loads the injured tissue thus making it more resistant.
Resistance training doesn’t have to be complicated, and it should be enjoyable.
by Darragh Bolton