To Your Health
June, 2010 (Vol. 04, Issue 06)
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Beginning a walking program is recommended early (within two weeks) after injury, especially spinal injury. This will help the healing process and speed recovery.

Early professional care and developing an aerobic fitness base will aid in the transition to the next phase of rehabilitation, strength training.

Rehab resistance - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark 3. Resistance Exercise

Once soft-tissue healing is significant enough for tissue to be a tensile strength and a foundation in aerobic training is underway, six specific steps are necessary when developing a plan for resistance exercise. Following these steps in order will assure that all bases are covered with each exercise plan. As mentioned previously, this care plan should be developed in conjunction with your doctor.

What Muscles Need Attention?

Determining the muscles that must be stretched and those that must be strengthened is a good first step. Evaluating the ratio between aerobic and resistive exercise is a good second step. In most cases resistive exercise should follow aerobic training. The effects on the injury or injuries being rehabbed must be considered to avoid re-injury and setbacks.

Which Exercises Are Best?

Full-body resistance training is good for almost everyone following a soft-tissue injury. A mixture of core, multi-joint and assistance exercises must be considered. Exercises that are specific to the injured area or the sport in which you are participating are also important for improving flexibility and strength in the injured area(s). This is a key to returning to health and preventing re-injury.

  • Core exercises strengthen the chest, shoulders, back, hips and thighs. Examples are crunches, push-ups and rowing exercises.

  • Multi-joint exercises involve movement of multiple joints and muscle groups. Examples include squats and shoulder presses.

  • Assistance exercises involve a single joint and the primary muscle or muscles that move the joint. Doing biceps curls by moving the elbow joint only is a good example.

Core exercises are important to everyone, but especially if you're suffering from a spinal condition. Multi-joint exercises are less specific and generally work multiple areas and involve heavier resistance. Assistance exercises are more specific, placing the majority of work on a single muscle.

The type of resistance selected is also important. Free weights and machines are common resistant equipment, but may be less practical than rubber tubing or other equipment, depending on the injury.

How Often Will I Be Exercising?

How often you will exercise is a key to effectiveness and the prevention of re-injury. Too little exercise (low frequency) will not produce the results desired, and too much exercise (high frequency) may result in re-injury. Initially the frequency should be timed to coincide with office visits to your doctor. This will make the transition to exercise frequencies specifically for the home or outside gym facilities smooth.

Should I Perform Exercises in Any Particular Order?

This is the sequence in which exercises should be performed during each session. Warm-up and aerobic exercises should be used to prepare for resistance training. In resistance training, core and multi-joint exercises are generally performed first, followed by assistance exercises. When a choice between lower body and upper body exercises is necessary, the lower body should be exercised first.