Do you notice that these days you need to be stronger as it is getting harder to do the occasional heavy lifting? Like moving furniture, the annual garden clean up or lifting the holiday suitcase into the boot! People become weak for various reasons; like dropping exercise as work is so busy, the hormonal changes with menopause or reduced activity after illness.
In the physiotherapy clinic patients book appointments as they experience pain doing these heavy lifting activities that in previous times were no challenge at all. Once we have cleared the pain with hands on treatment, the discussion naturally focuses on the patient not being strong enough to do the things in life they expected to be able to do.
When the pain is fresh in their mind, patients are very motivated and compliant with their exercises. Plus, when they just start recovery, the exercises tend to be at the easier end of the scale. But as the weeks’ march on, the muscle response to exercise takes longer and the routine can start to all feel like a chore. The pain is a distant memory and patients think they should be stronger by now.
What is the process for muscles to recover after an injury?
1. Muscle Activation: When you first start exercising, the focus is usually on the painful body part. With pain; muscles become inhibited – the fibres just turn off and go to sleep. So, as you wake them up with your physio specific exercises, the results are very dramatic and satisfying in the first 4-6 weeks.
2. Muscle hypertrophy: It takes another 6 weeks of at least 2 x week consistent exercise for the now ‘woken up muscle fibre’ to actually increase in size and get stronger.
3. Functional Use: Once the muscle has regained its glory and previous strength, the focus now is for your body to correctly use the right muscles at the right time at the right intensity as you lift, push, pull and shove. This unconscious pattern of muscle recruitment again takes another 6-8 weeks.
Therefore, to get stronger, it takes about 20 weeks of consistent exercise before the heavy lifting activities are easier and you don’t end up injured in Physio. We understand that some people stick to exercise better in a class environment or others need guidance about how to actually perform exercise. That is why Active Solutions Physiotherapy has a variety of exercise options including Physio Exercise, Lifestyle Fit (Strength for Life equivalent), Cardio-Pilates, Mat Pilates and Personal Training.
Remember, if you don’t use it, you will lose it!