Stay strong, reduce your risk of injury and know how your body heals By Sheree DiBiase, PT, ICLM, Lake City Physical Therapy
The body and all its joints and muscles were made to move. That’s their job! The joints, muscles, nerves and bones need at least 10 repetitions a day to keep healthy. If you are not active daily, muscles and their neurological intervention atrophy in only three to five days with non-use. So, the best way to ensure your body’s health this season is to get moving!
Strength training reduces sports injuries by over 66 percent and repetitive overuse injuries by 50 percent, according to recent research data overview. Interestingly enough, the research also showed that the more we increased our strength training “volume and intensity,” the less sport-related injuries occurred. Different approaches to strength training appeared to lead to the same outcomes in the literature; they all decreased the risk of injury. Which is good news, because we can make a change in our health, no problem. It’s never too late.
Evidence suggests that if you were already on a strength-training program, increasing your volume by only 10 percent was shown to be effective at reducing injuries. Stretching was not directly related to a reduction in sport-related injuries, but it did make people feel better.
There are so many different ways to strength train that picking one seems to be part of the challenge. Since the data is showing that all strength training leads to a healthier life and reduces the risk of injury, we just need to get started.
Body by Science challenged our thinking by describing five main exercises done to fatigue at the highest weight possible, and it takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes to accomplish it. The CrossFit world offers us longer, integrated workouts with a connection to a team of people to help keep us motivated. Your local gym has personal trainers who can offer you one-on-one direction and drive you forward to your personal goals as well. There are exercise apps and online training programs, so you don’t even have to leave your house to strength train.
Your local physical therapists are premier musculoskeletal specialists and can help you get started on a strength-training program that you can do at home or a gym. They understand past injury implications and complex medical history to keep you safe while you strength train.
They have customized exercise apps that can advance your strength as you progress every few weeks to months. Currently, I have a couple who have their exercise app on their TV, and they work out together with it every day. They have never felt better!
Getting stronger will most likely keep you from the unwanted “downtime” that comes from sport-related injuries or repetitive work injuries, so you can have more fun playing this season.
Understanding what it takes for the body to heal after injury might help us see why strength training is so necessary. The different structures in our body heal at different rates, and once you know the time frames, it becomes a motivator for prevention of injury.
Healing Time Frames for Body Structures:
1. Bones: Approximately six to eight weeks; protect the site, but weight bearing helps bones heal.
2. Nerves: Typically take the longest (three to four months) to heal; the longer a nerve is, the longer it takes to heal. A nerve heals at an approximate rate of 1 to 3 millimeters a month.
3. Cartilage: Approximately 12 weeks; it is aneural, so often we don’t know it’s injured until it thins down to the underlying bone.
4. Ligaments: Depending on severity, 10 to 16 weeks; slow to heal, as their blood supply is limited.
5. Muscle: Two to six weeks depending on severity; good blood flow improves their ability to heal quickly.
6. Tendons: Four to six weeks depending on severity and area of tear; can take longer if blood supply isn’t efficient. Achilles’ tendon often takes longer, as it is large and diffuse with more elastic fibers and needs eccentric loading to heal.
Strength training is the best way to help muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons and nerves stay healthy.Preventative exercise is the key to longevity. The body wants to heal itself. We have the ability to turn off genetic tendencies for chronic disease with daily exercise, clean diet, intermittent fasting, sleeping seven to eight hours a night and decreasing the stressors that make excessive cortisol.
The Buck Institute for Anti-Aging states that they “believe it is possible for people to enjoy their lives at 95 as much as they do at 25, and to achieve that, they are seeking a more comprehensive understanding of the biology of aging itself.” Once we understand that more clearly, we can effect regeneration and healing. Strength training is a key component of that because the myokines made during exercise actually decrease inflammation and facilitate healing.
This is good news, because it means we are never too old—and it’s never too late—to make a change in our health.
Sheree DiBiase, PT, ICLM is an entrepreneur and the owner of Lake City Physical Therapy, PA, and she believes your health is the greatest gift you will ever have in your life! You can reach out to her at LakeCityPT.com to learn more about what you can do to have a healthier lifestyle.