Physiotherapy: Strengthening exercises

When thinking about strengthening exercises, we quickly get the image of a person lifting weights in a gym. Yet strengthening serves us far more than for lifting loads. Muscular strength allows us to perform our work, maintain a stable posture and practice our favorite sports, so we use targeted strengthening exercises in physical therapy to improve your condition.

Most people who go to physiotherapy have to do home exercises. Among these, we often find strengthening exercises. It is therefore important to understand why physiotherapists recommend them and why these exercises will help you stay healthy.

What is strengthening?

Muscle strength is the ability of our muscles to produce tension. This tension makes it possible to stabilize or mobilize the bones of the body. Strengthening is the activity that aims to increase muscle strength.

Philippe, a patient from our clinics, started physiotherapy after an alpine skiing accident that forced him to be bedridden for a few months. Philippe had significant decreases in muscle strength. Various exercises allowed him to recover gradually.

Types of strengthening

There are three types of strengthening exercises depending on the gains you want to achieve:

  1. Exercises that increase muscle strength are the most popular. They allow you to do everyday work, activities and leisure. They are very important after an injury.
  2. Exercises that increase muscular endurance make it possible to perform a less intense effort for an extended duration. These exercises are preferred to perform sports activities such as running or cycling. They are also important for patients who perform physical work for several hours.
  3. Exercises that increase muscle power allow for short-term effort at maximum intensity. This is the kind of strength that weightlifters or sprinters develop. These exercises are ideal for a worker who has to lift heavy loads.

Philippe’s exercise program began with simple exercises  aiming to increase strength. This allowed him to return to work and participate in home chores. Subsequently, his goal was to resume alpine skiing. The exercises then progressed to a mixture of power and endurance, allowing him to ski for a few hours.

Equipment

Reinforcement can be done with a wide variety of equipment. Physiotherapists generally prefer elastic bands because of the increasing resistance they offer. Free weights are also often used.

In the training room, there are strengthening devices that offer different ways to train. A consultation with a trainer or kinesiologist may be beneficial for advice on how to use the training room equipment

Your own body weight can also be used to strengthen muscles. Push-ups, boards, squats and sit-ups are good examples of exercises that do not require equipment.

Daily routine

Since it is our muscles that support us and allow us to move, it is important to work them a little every day. Many jobs require sustained effort for long hours. Work can therefore be used as exercises. However, it is important to vary the type of exercises and perform other activities than work to strengthen different muscle groups.

A quick and easy way to strengthen our muscles is to perform a sport activity. Swimming, running and yoga are good examples. Sports can work both our muscles and our heart and can be more motivating than training in a room.

In summary, strengthening exercises help you maintain a good physical shape and  pursue your work and favorite activities. It also reduces the risk of injury. So, do not hesitate to consult your physiotherapist, whether after an injury or simply as a preventive measure, in order to obtain the right exercises according to your objectives.