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Strength Training if you have a neurological problem

Strengthening is an important part of any fitness routine and is particularly important as we get older and the muscle bulk and bone density start to naturally reduce without actively maintaining this.

Weakness can occur for a range of reasons in the perosn with damage to their neurological system including:

  • the loss of neural commands to activate the muscles
  • secondary loss due to doing less activity or poorly controlled activity

If you are going to do strength training that is really going to impact on how you move there are a few things that need to be considered.

Testing the muscle for how much strength there is can be complex and deficits compounded by other issues such as contracture, sensory loss, inco-ordiantion and spasms.  The muscle can have problems at different parts of the range or with different types of contractions. There may also be an influence of how the tester sets up the test position that influences the result of the strength test.   This requires a skilled practitioner to help break down the issues.

In planning what muscles are going to be strengthened and how, the effect that muscle weakness has on movement also needs to be considered in terms of the range and type of muscle activation required. There are other factors such as muscle fatigue to consider that will vary with different conditions as to how the repititions and weight loading are managed.

If you are undertaking a strengthening program and you are trying to change something specifically, eg getting up from a chair, then getting some movement retraining to ensure the muscles are learning to integrate and activate in the right way is vital. The body will not necessarily use the new strength without retraining as the motor pathways are already stored, and we have to rewire the brain.

We encourage to you to get an accurate assessment to integrate good strengthening activities into your routine.

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