If you’ve suffered an injury, you may be tempted to rest the affected limb and wait for it to heal. While rest is an important part of the recovery process, it’s not the only thing you can do to help your body heal. In fact, training your uninjured limb can be beneficial for your injured limb.
When you train one limb, your brain sends signals to the muscles on that side of your body. These signals strengthen the neural pathways that control movement, making it easier for you to perform the exercise over time. The neural pathways that control movement in one limb overlap with the neural pathways that control movement in the other limb. That means that when you train your uninjured limb, you’re also strengthening the neural pathways that control movement in your injured limb.
This is called the “cross- education”, which can be particularly effective for people recovering from injuries. Training the uninjured limb improves muscle strength and reduces muscle atrophy in the injured limb in people recovering from surgery or injury. It also improves motor control in the injured limb.
There are a few reasons. When you’re injured, your body tends to compensate by using other muscles and joints to perform tasks that your injured limb would normally handle. This can lead to muscle imbalances, which can make your injury worse over time. By training your uninjured limb, you’re helping to maintain balance and symmetry in your body, which can reduce the risk of further injury.
Training your uninjured limb can also help to maintain overall fitness and prevent deconditioning during the recovery process. When you are injured, it’s easy to become sedentary and lose muscle mass and cardiovascular fitness. By training your uninjured limb, you’re staying active and engaged in your recovery process, which can help you get back to your normal activities more quickly.
This is good news if you sustain an injury on one side. For example, you might strain or even tear an Achilles tendon running and not be able to strength train on that side for weeks or longer, yet you might still be able to train the opposite limb and preserve strength and reduce muscle loss. If you don’t train at all, studies show you can lose up to 33% of the strength in a limb from inactivity. Then, you have the task of recouping that lost strength and mass. Too much sitting when you’re injured increases the risk of a blood clot and is harmful to your metabolic health. You might also gain a few pounds of body fat from being sedentary. Training the good side is a chance to preserve muscle mass and strength and stay active.
If you’re injured, be cautious about your training to avoid doing further damage and extending the time you can’t train. If you’re recovering from an injury, talk to your chiropractor about using cross-education exercises into your rehabilitation program. With the right guidance and support, training your uninjured limb can be a safe and effective way to speed up your recovery and get back to doing the things you love.
1. Mirror training: stand in front of a mirror with a dumbbell in your right hand, then perform biceps curls while looking at your reflection> This creates the illusion that you are also performing the exercise with your left arm, which activates the contralateral side of your brain.
2. Unilateral training: try perform single-leg squats, lunges or arm curls. For example, you can do a set of 10 single-leg squats on your left leg, then switch to your right leg for the next set. This will allow you to train each leg individually, while also activating both sides of the brain.
3. Contralateral movements: try walking with your left arm and right leg moving together, then switch with your left arm and right leg moving together for the next set, this can help improving your coordination and training your injured limb.
4. Resistance training: use resistance bands to perform exercises such as bicep curls or shoulder presses. You can loop the band around your left foot and hold the other end with your right hand, then perform bicep curls with your right arm.
At Lakeside Chiropractic, cross education exercises may be recommended as part of a chiropractic treatment plan. Chiropractic care can be beneficial for those who engage in cross education exercises regularly, as it can help to identify and address any underlying joint or muscle imbalances that may be contributing to pain or limited mobility.
Our Chiropractors are registered with all health care providers which means you can claim your money straight back through the HICAPS machine on site within the clinic. If you have any further questions or would like to book an appointment, give us a call on 9300 0095 or head to our website to book at www.lakesidechiro.com.auSchedule an Appointment