Repeated muscle strains while performing exercise getting you down? We have a solution:
As physiotherapists, we are seeing a lot people complaining of repeated joint aches and muscle strains while exercising. These people feel frustrated that they can’t consistently keep their exercise regime going. Furthermore, they have lost confidence with their body because they are always getting injured. Does this sound familiar? If it does, we may have a simple solution for you.
A common injury we see is the reoccurring calf strain. This injury is often associated with runners, soccer and netball players. Patients describe a tightening in their calf that gets worse the longer they exercise. The patient rests and inadvertently goes into a SPIRAL OF WEAKNESS. This is where the injured person RESTS from all activity for a period of time. During this time, the person spirals down into a state of decondition. The patients injury site, although feeling better, becomes weaker. Because the patient is feeling better they try returning to their exercise. But due to weakness the patient experiences another strain to their original injury. This reaggrevation spirals the patient to further weakness and spirals the patient further away from a painfree return to exercise.
One reason for people with re-occurring muscles strains is that they may not strong enough to perform the particular activity. More specifically, the muscle unit may not have enough functional strength to perform the action needed to move. We know from studies that runners who can’t perform 24 single leg calf raises are more a risk of pulling a calf muscle. Therefore, it makes sense that runners, netball players and footballers for that matter, should have strong calf muscles to reduce the risk of calf muscle strains. In fact, to insure these people remain injury free they should try and have more strength in the calf muscles than they need. The videos below illustrate the progression exercises for calf strengthening.
As physiotherapists, we call this enhanced strength “Strength Reserve”. It is a concept that blends knowledge from Strength and Conditioning. It means that people who exercise should have more strength in reserve than what they need for their daily activities. For elite footballers it would imply training specifically for the demands of their sport. This would include sprinting, jumping, and kicking as examples. But it can also be general flexibility and body strength for an elderly person to continue gardening at home. Both examples need to have strength over and above what their activity requires so that their body is resilient, robust and injury proof. We are lucky that our physiotherapists have a strong background in S&C. In fact, Recovery Room Physiotherapist’s Emilee Oldham (SEE HER BIO HERE) & Andrew Armstrong have Post Grad Certifications in this important field. See Andrews Story of his Strength & Conditioning background HERE.
So, if you are struggling with reoccurrent muscle strains remember the concept of building a strength reserve. Your problem could be that you are not strong enough for the particular forces that your activity demands. By specifically increasing muscle strength you will enhancing your body’s robustness and recilence. Improving your muscle strength will HELP you finally get over niggling aches and strains that’s stopping you get back to exercise.