Resistance training is regarded as any type of exercise that builds strength and muscle mass but it is not just for the gym-bro’s and rugby players – It has a wealth of benefits reaching far beyond getting bigger, stronger muscles. This blog will outline some key benefits of resistance training and then explain why it is an important part of rehabilitation from acute and chronic injury or pain.
Slows down muscle loss as we age:
Muscle starts to deteriorate when we reach our 30’s. After age 40, we lose on average 8 percent of our muscle mass every decade, and this phenomenon continues to accelerate at an even faster rate after age 60. Studies show that this loss of muscle hastens the onset of diseases, limits mobility, and is linked to premature death. Resistance training slows this down by working the muscles at a level where they are forced to adapt and maintain, or even improve their strength and size.
It keeps our bones nice and strong:
Similar factors that help you maintain muscle are the same factors that keep your bones strong and dense. As you age, your bones become more brittle – a process known as osteopenia. The end of the spectrum here is osteoporosis, where your bones are at a much greater risk of fracturing. Resistance training helps delay this process from occurring and can even reverse the process once started. Consistent evidence also suggests that exercise therapy and specific resistance exercises for the lower limb reduce pain and improve physical function in hip and knee osteoarthritis.
You live longer:
Research shows those with higher muscle mass tend to live longer than those with less muscle. This relationship remains after accounting for traditional markers of disease, and it showed that low muscle mass was an even better predictor of premature death than obesity.
It helps you lose fat:
Probably the best way to burn fat and hold onto muscle is to combine a good diet with resistance training. Throw some aerobic exercise into the mix as well and you have yourself a recipe for optimal health and a better quality of life.
So where does resistance training fit in to your rehabilitation programme?
For a start, as a protective mechanism, resistance training has been shown to reduce acute sports-related injuries (i.e., joint sprains, muscle strains, etc) by over 30% and overuse injuries (i.e., tendon pain) by 50%.
If you are unfortunate enough to already have an injury, resistance training makes up the bulk of your rehabilitation to best prepare you to return to sport, work, or just life. This is because when we injure a joint, we naturally have an inability to fully contract the muscles around that joint due to pain, inflammation and/or swelling. Once this process – called arthrogenic muscle inhibition – kicks in, it is a “use it or lose it” situation. Our body cannot utilise the muscles to their full potential, so the muscles become weaker. Progressive resistance training therefore helps to reverse this process and gradually re-train the muscles to become stronger and function better than they did prior to the injury so the joint can tolerate sport/work/life again.
Resistance training is the closest thing to the fountain of youth that we have. To attain the above benefits, the World Health Organisation recommends we perform resistance training exercises that work the full body at least twice per week. These results take time and adherence to a structured, progressive programme to achieve. That is where your physiotherapist can help. Come talk to us at Bureta Physiotherapy + Wellness if you have any questions regarding the best way to achieve your goals.
Written by Grayson Harwood Physiotherapist