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TheraGear Staff
Health and Fitness News Article - TheraGear Article Resource

Think Eccentric For Post-Rehab

Article #8

Have you noticed that there appears to be an increasing number of workshops and literature focusing on post- rehabilitation strengthening? Do you wonder if you have the qualifications and or knowledge to be able to incorporate this "trend" of exercise theory into your group exercise classes and or personal training sessions? Let me tell you yes. As registered BCRPA personal trainers and group exercise leaders you have the basic knowledge, and with a little "tweeking," you should feel confident enough to include some cutting edge "post-rehab" strengthening in your group and/or personal training sessions. What I'm referring to here is eccentrically-based functional strengthening of the body.

In my research I discovered the importance of incorporating eccentrically-based exercises into the regular fitness regime for, not only the post-rehab individual, but also for the "healthy" exercise participant as well. And just why is eccentric strengthening so important? Well, in one sentence, let me summarize what I studied for 2 years! The root of many chronic (overuse) injuries is a lack of adequate eccentric strength which, in turn, tends to predispose one to faulty muscle recruitment
patterns, muscle imbalance, and joint instability.

Keeping this in mind, in order to keep our clients and participants healthy and injury-free, doesn't it make sense to include exercises which optimize muscle balance and joint stability and, hopefully, prevent or at least reduce the risk of injury? YES! (The following ideas are based on an extensive review of literature pertaining to eccentric exercise, which I performed as part of my master's degree in the area of sports medicine). While my area of expertise is the shoulder complex, this information may very readily be extrapolated to include other areas of the body. Great, you say, but what you really want are specific exercises, right? Well this is where your knowledge comes in handy.

First, consider any exercise you currently include in your classes or personal training sessions. Next, analyze the exercise for its eccentric (lengthening) component. Finally, emphasize this eccentric phase of the movement when performing the exercise.

Let me give you an example using a bent-over row. The lifting or shortening action is the concentric phase; the lowering or lengthening action is the eccentric phase. To make this exercise eccentrically-based, you would lift (1 second), hold (1 second) and lower in 4 to 6 seconds. To emphasize the eccentric phase more, you would incorporate a series of "stops" or decelerations in the lowering phase. (ie., lower (1 sec.), stop (1 sec), lower again, stop again; repeating this pattern 4 to 6 times throughout the full range of "eccentric" motion). Try this with abdominal curls, lateral raises, squats, lunges...the list is endless.

The information I have shared with you is just the tip of the "eccentric" ice-berg. It is based on the master's degree of Pam Pedlow titled, "Eccentric exercise, its role in shoulder rehabilitation, its benefit in post-rehabilitation conditioning, and its sport-specific application." April 1999.

-Pam Pedlow has her master's degree in Human Kinetics (Sports Medicine) where she studied the relationship between eccentrically-based exercise and post-rehabilitative strengthening of the shoulder complex.

Pam Pedlow