Monday, August 30, 2010

Not Too Little, Not Too Much, Just Right! - Rehab

Patients often ask why we want them to do rehab exercises as part of their treatment plan.  There is often a bit of confusion because the exercises look relatively simple, and do not use much weight, if weights are used at all. So let me share with you the difference between "rehabiliation exercises", what we use in the office to improve function, versus "strength training" exercises, which are more common in a gym setting.

First and foremost, according to Stedman's Medical Dictionairy, rehabilitation is "restoration of the ability to function in a normal or near normal manner, following illness or injury". So our focus is on restoring proper function.  And here are some of the differences between functional (rehabilitation) training and strength training according to Pitt's own Dr. Michael Schneider, PhD.

Functional Training:
  • Trains movements, NOT individual muscles (like a bicep curl)
  • Goal is to create stability, NOT make muscles bigger (like a body builder)
  • Improve muscle coordination, NOT increase the amount of force from a muscle (like an athlete in training)
  • Uses posture to improve balance/control, NOT use heavy weights for strength gains (like an athlete)
At first many of our exercises seem like they don't do much and that they are too simple to help, but in reality they are very effective at restoring normal muscle and joint function, coordination, control and stability, which is often part of our goals during the rehabilitation phase of care. This leads to better recovery and significantly lessens the chance of the problem happening again.  Virtually everyone can benefit from functional training, while very few people will truly benefit from a bigger bicep.

-Dr. Darin