Science Has The Answer

Updated: Jul 13, 2020

At some point in life we’re all going to get injured. Accidents happen. And the process of recovery from this is often long and frustrating. Whether it’s ligament damage or a broken bone, there’s no doubt that this is going to impact your day-to-day life, as well as your exercise regime. There’ll be many people that tell themselves that being unable to move a particular body part means that they can’t train. They’ll prioritise rest and recovery and put the brakes on their workouts. So now, not only are they losing strength in the damaged body part (which is unavoidable), they’re also moving the rest of their body less, burning less calories, and losing strength in all the other body parts too. Now here’s where it all gets a bit science-y… Did you know that there have been studies which show that training the opposite limb to the damaged one which you can’t move (for example, working out with the right arm when the left one is broken) actually has a carryover in helping to heal and repair the damaged part? Yes, you read that right. It’s called a contralateral effect. It means that there’s a cross-body phenomenon which makes your damaged body part react as though it has been directly trained, even if it is solidly held in a cast. When you have to immobilise an injured body part, the muscles and tissue around the damage will weaken and shrink. When you train around the injury you can have a profound effect on this loss of strength, slowing down and combatting the shrinkage. This means that the rehabilitation process that begins once you are able to move properly again will be much less gruelling, as you’ll have significantly less work to do to get back to where you were before the injury. I know this all sounds far-fetched. In truth, it’s very new research. The trials and studies are completely conclusive. They 100% prove that this is real, but the science needs more solidifying. We know this happens, we just don’t actually know why. Really though, it doesn’t matter. Knowing that continuing to train around an injury could stop me losing any muscle mass during the rest period is more than enough to keep me in that gym. Yes, the workouts will be inconvenient and potentially a little frustrating, but it’s definitely still possible to have a good, successful workout with one limb eliminated. So what can we do with this information? Keep training! Anything that’s going to keep you moving forward with the rest of your body, whilst simultaneously stopping you moving backwards within the injury sound like a big old win-win to me. If you’re struggling with training around an injury and would like programming advice, please drop me a message. I know how limiting it can feel, and I have lots of experience in getting creative with workouts to suit certain restrictions. So next time someone says that they can’t train because of an injury, we’ll all know that it’s just a convenient excuse not to work out. ;) Oh, and by the way, if you’re as fascinated by this as I am, or simply don’t actually believe me, check out this link: LINK James

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