Posts tagged strength
No long term benefits found with a 4 week foam rolling program

Foam rolling is an effective home exercise to improve muscular pain, flexibility, and performance. Our previous blog posts detailed the performance benefits of performing foam rolling either before or after your exercise workouts. Our current understanding of the mechanisms behind these benefits are based on two categories: local circulation and improved stretch tolerance. As our nervous system adapts to the stimulus of foam rolling we are able to roll deeper and tolerate a greater stretch than we could before the stimulus of foam rolling. Up until this point, only the short term benefits of foam rolling have been studied. A new research study examines the impact of a long term foam rolling program on flexibility, strength, and performance.

Hodgson and colleagues randomized recreationally active college students to one of three groups: control, rolling three times per week, or rolling six times a week. Each of the intervention groups performed foam rolling of their dominant hamstring and quadricep muscles at their given frequency for 4 weeks. Participants range of motion, strength, and jumping ability were measured before and after the study period. The authors reported no long term benefits of foam rolling or significant interactions for any measurement except a slightly better jump height in the three times a week group. In contrast to the acute benefits of foam rolling, no long term or training benefits were noted after 4 weeks of foam rolling. This study supports our current understanding on the short term nervous system adaptations which follow acute bouts of foam rolling.

Like bathing, the effects of foam rolling do not last, which is why we recommend performing it daily.

Abnormal Shoulder Blade Mechanics and Position Increases Risk of Future Pain

The shoulder blade or scapula plays an important role in optimal function of the shoulder joint.  The scapula provides the foundation for both stability and force generation through the arm during athletics and daily activities.  Weakness in the scapular muscles can lead to abnormal posture and movement or dyskinesis in the scapula during arm movements.  Most commonly, we observe winging or movement of the blade away from the rib cage during arm movements.  Dyskinesis can occur in both injured and healthy shoulders but the data has been inconclusive if these poor movements can predict who will have shoulder pain in the future.  

A recent review article in the British Journal of Sports Medicine analyzed the existing literature on scapular dyskinesis and future shoulder pain (Hickey et al. 2017).  The authors examined 5 previous articles including a total of 419 athletes.  They reported 160 of the 419 asymptomatic athletes demonstrated dyskinesis at baseline.  Of these, 35% went on to experience shoulder pain over the following 1-2 year follow up.  Conversely, 25% of the asymptomatic shoulders without dyskinesis went on to experience shoulder pain.  The results demonstrated having dyskinesis at baseline increased the risk of developing shoulder pain by 43%.  

To learn more on how to reduce your risk of future shoulder pain symptoms contact your local Physical Therapist. 

Shoulder Blade Mechanics and Shoulder Pain

The shoulder blade and upper arm bone move together to produce a variety of arm and hand movements essential for life and sport.  Proper movement of the shoulder blade is required to produce normal mechanics at the joint surfaces and maintain the length and function of the shoulder blade and shoulder muscles.  Abnormal mechanics between these bones has been noted in many upper body conditions including neck pain, shoulder impingement, and rotator cuff injuries.  It is currently not known if these abnormal mechanics are the cause or result of pain.  In addition, we often see poor mechanics in individuals who do not have any shoulder symptoms. 

Researchers and clinicians have blamed a patient's poor mechanics on a lack of shoulder blade strength.  For example, those patients with weakness will have poor mechanics and in turn will respond well to a strengthening program.  Similar to what Physical Therapists find in patients with knee pain, often poor mechanics are found in patients with good strength.  These patients often respond better to coordination or motor control exercises instead of a program focused on strength development.

A recent research study by Hannah et al. confirmed this discrepancy between strength and shoulder blade mechanics (International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 2017).  The researchers recruited 40 college participants of which 27 (68%) demonstrated poor scapular mechanics.  The participants' strength assessments were compared to their age matched peers with good mechanics.  The authors found no significant differences between those with normal or poor shoulder blade mechanics.  A limitation of this study was its' testing of only healthy patients.  It is not known if this study would hold up in a population of patients with shoulder pain or injury. 

Patient's with shoulder pain and poor mechanics must be assessed for strength and control to determine the most appropriate treatment plan.  To learn more about how you can improve your strength and shoulder mechanics contact your local Physical Therapist.

Vitamin D Supplementation and Muscle Strength
muscle strengthening-vitamin D-supplements

Nutritional supplements are widely advertised with amazing health claims but few have been able to show true effects beyond placebo or control groups.  In regards to strength training, two have been studied scientifically to draw conclusions on their effectiveness.  Creatine has been shown to improve strength gains and muscle growth among users who are concurrently strength training.  In addition, vitamin D has also been studied to determine its' effectiveness on muscle strength.

A recent systematic review in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research examined the evidence behind vitamin D supplementation and muscle strength (Chiang et al. 2017).  4/5 of the included trials were deemed to have excellent quality.  The trials lasted from 4 to 24 weeks with dosages ranging from 600 to 5000 IU per day.  Vitamin D3 showed the most positive impact on muscle strength with effects ranging from 1 to 19%.  Interested patients, are encouraged to speak to their physician before beginning any supplementation. 

Strengthen YOur Lower Body for Upper Body Gains
lower body-upper body-strengthening-gains

The benefits of strength or resistance training are numerous including increased quality of life, reduce injury risk, and increased performance.  In previous blog posts we have discussed the cross over effect where working one side of the body creates improved flexibility, strength, or balance on both sides of the body.   If we view our bodies as an interconnected unit versus individual pieces we can create better strength training programs to maximize strength development.  

A recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning research compared two different long term lower body resistance training programs on upper body strength development (Bartolomei et al. 2016).  The participants were divided up into two groups one performed a lower volume, heavy lifting (low reps, high weight) program while the second performed a higher volume, moderate load (high reps, lower weight) program.  Both groups lifted weights 4 days a week for 6 weeks.  The authors found the higher volume training had a stronger effect on upper body strength measurements compared to the lower volume training.  This study emphasizes the importance of incorporating the lower body into any strength training program. 

Hip Strength and Running Related Leg Injuries

In prior posts, we have discussed the importance of hip strengthening among runners.  There is a strong correlation between hip weakness, especially the hip abductors, and knee pain.  Studies have questioned if these strength impairments are present before pain develops or occur due to the onset of pain.  In addition, some research has demonstrated runners may have adequate hip strength but demonstrate poor mechanics and knee pain secondary to coordination impairments.  A Physical Therapy assessment can best identify the root cause of a runner's knee pain and develop an appropriate treatment program involving either strengthen or coordination training.  Recently, a medical literature review was conducted to determine the available evidence on the impact of hip strengthening on running related injuries. 

Authors analyzed 11 studies on lower extremity running injuries looking for significant differences in hip strength between the healthy and injured runners (Mucha et al. J Sci Med Sport. 2016).  In particular, strong evidence was found among patients with IT band pain indicating hip strength plays an important relationship between strength and this diagnosis.  Conversely, evidence was not as strong to support a link between hip strength and other injuries including shin splints (medial tibial stress syndrome), stress fracture, and achilles tendinopathy.