Unlocking the Power of Muscles: Stay Strong, Safe, and Confident
Discover the Power of Muscle Contractions: Learn about concentric, eccentric, and isometric contractions and their importance in staying strong
Published: May 21st, 2023 | By: Tom Newby | Read Time: 3 mins
As we move into the summer months, many of us are focusing on staying active and healthy. While exercise is undoubtedly essential for maintaining fitness, it’s also crucial to understand how the muscles in our bodies actually work. As you age, maintaining the right amount of muscular strength for balance and proprioception (your perception of your body in space) is absolutely critical. It’s also a topic that frequently comes up when I treat people at the clinic.
Falling over and muscular strength
Although there can be a multitude of medical reasons leading to a fall, muscular weakness and poor balance are two of the top ones. Here are some powerful, pertinent government health statistics relating to falls:
- Falls are the number one reason older people are taken to A&E.
- 30% of people aged 65+ will fall at least once per year.
- 50% of people aged 80+ will fall at least once per year.
- If a hip is fractured, the stats are not great, with a fracture increasing the one-year mortality rate between 18% and 22%.
As I’ve said to many people who’ve been in to see me, we actually begin to lose muscle mass from the age of 30 (on average). Typically, this ramps up across the 50s and 60s and can become problematic, especially when twinned with a sedentary lifestyle. As such, maintaining your strength as you age is essential to your long-term health. Both lifespan (how long you live) and healthspan (how long you remain healthy within your lifespan) require strong, powerful muscles. That’s why I wanted to take a short moment to discuss the three types of muscular contractions and their importance in staying strong:
Concentric contractions involve the shortening of a muscle while it’s under tension. An example of a concentric contraction exercise is a bicep curl, where you lift a weight towards your shoulder.
Eccentric contractions involve the lengthening of a muscle while it’s under tension. An example of an eccentric contraction exercise is a tricep extension, where you lower a weight away from your shoulder.
Isometric contractions involve holding a muscle in a static position without any visible movement. An example of an isometric contraction exercise is a plank, where you hold a push-up position without moving.
Incorporating all three types of contractions into your exercise routine can help improve your strength, stability, confidence in movement, and overall fitness. Here are some simple exercises you can try at home:
Concentric exercises: Bicep curls, squats, bench press, leg press.
Eccentric exercises: Tricep extensions, lunges, deadlifts, push-ups.
Isometric exercises: Planks, wall sits, bird dog.
By performing exercises utilising each type of contraction, you’ll better arm your body to cope with the various strains thrown its way from daily life. Whatever you decide to do with your exercise routine, do try to remember that variety is always key. Mix it up and challenge your body by working out in multiple planes (forwards/backwards, side to side, up/down), as well as incorporating differing levels of intensity through each of the three types of contractions. Despite the sobering statistics I mentioned earlier, it is doubtful that enough people invest sufficient time in maintaining the quality of their supportive muscles. If you choose to do so, you’ll significantly reduce your chances of falling. Think of it as an investment in both your lifespan and your healthspan!
At Massage Matters Clinic, we’re here to support your health and wellness goals. If you’re experiencing any muscular pain or discomfort, please don’t hesitate to book an appointment with one of our experienced massage therapists.
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