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Strength: A focus on physiotherapy

  • 3 mins

Getting stronger is a popular health and wellbeing goal for individuals of all age groups and abilities.

The Australian Government’s Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that adults aged 18 – 64 years do muscle strengthening activities at least 2 days per week. In fact, strength building activities are also recommended for children aged 5 – 17 years and for older Australians.

We recently spoke with HenderCare Physiotherapists Maddie and Varisha about the role strength plays in our general health throughout our lives and how we can incorporate different strength exercises depending on our levels of fitness.

So, why is strength training important?

In technical terms, muscle strength refers to the ability of a muscle or muscle group to exert maximal force against a resistance.

Strength often acts as the foundation to which other skills are built upon. It is difficult to have great mobility or balance if the muscles required for these skills are not strong enough.

Strength training can improve muscle strength and tone, posture, joint function, bone density, endurance, tendon and ligament health, and balance.

It is also an important component of weight management, decreasing the risk of injury, pain management and maintaining physical independence with everyday tasks. Our muscle strength naturally reduces as we age and after a period of inactivity.

Therefore, it is important to incorporate a strength training program into your routine which works towards your strength goals. With any strength training, it takes approximately 6 to 8 weeks to see a significant change in muscle strength.

What does strength training look like?

Resistance training is the use of a resistance (e.g. A dumbbell weight) to increase the strength of a muscle. It is based on the principle that the muscles will work to overcome the resistance and when this is done repeatedly, a sustained improvement in strength will occur.

Resistance training is the traditional way of improving strength and often involves isolating one muscle group at a time.

A common example of this type of exercise is performing a bicep curl with a hand weight, aiming to strengthen the bicep muscles in the upper arm.

For resistance training to be effective, it needs to be progressed over time so that it remains challenging.

This might mean increasing the amount of weight you are using or changing the number of repetitions you are performing. It is important to introduce resistance training gradually and to perform exercises with the correct technique to avoid injury.

Don’t forget that your muscles need time to repair and adapt after a workout. A standard guideline is to rest the muscle group for 48 hours before training the same muscle group again.

A different approach to improving muscle strength is with functional strength training which focuses on large body movements that often mimic activities of daily life.

Common examples of functional strength exercises are:

  • Sit to stands
  • Squats
  • Step-ups.

Functional strength exercises are often more dynamic in nature and can combine strength, balance, mobility, and coordination skills. This type of strength training is task specific and aims to improve the individual’s ability to perform that task in their everyday life. Consequently, functional strength training is very tailored to the individual and their goals.

 

At HenderCare, our Physiotherapists can work with you to identify activities that you may have difficulty with and develop an individualised program combining resistance and functional strength training to achieve your strength goals.

To speak with our physiotherapist about your needs today, please call 1300 764 433 or email alliedhealth@hendercare.com.au.

 

*A reminder that the advice above is of a general nature and we advise anyone trying any particular exercises mentioned to seek the proper medical advice to ensure it is right for you.

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