*Study shows ‘mirror contractions’ will occur under your cast while training the other side

If you have ever broken an arm and had to wear a cast or splint for a few weeks, you will be familiar with the alarming loss of muscle and uneasy feeling of weakness experienced after removing your cast.

Most people do not do much exercise while a broken arm is healing and can struggle with this loss of muscle, known as ‘atrophy,’ and weakness for many weeks after the injury.

A new study published recently in the Journal of Applied Physiology, conducted in my lab by graduate student Justin Andrushko, suggests an effective strategy to offset muscle weakness might be to exercise the other arm.

We recruited a group of 16 college students to wear casts on their left wrists for four weeks. Half of these students exercised their right arm aggressively three days per week using a type of training known as ‘eccentric training’ — which lengthens the muscle during contraction, and is quite effective for building muscle and enhancing strength.

Before and after the study period, we measured wrist strength in several different ways and quantified muscle volume using a Computed Tomography (CT) scan of the forearm. As expected, those students who did not train lost about 20 per cent of their strength and about three per cent of their muscle volume after four weeks.

Remarkably, the students who trained their opposite wrist completely preserved both the strength and muscle volume in the left, immobilized arm. This research has received a lot of attention.

The phenomenon that creates the effect is known as ‘cross-education,’ and has been documented for over a century, but the new study is one of just a handful to measure the effect when the opposite limb is immobilized.

More work in clinical settings is needed before any changes to standard rehabilitation practices can be discussed.

-This article was originally published by The Conversation

Description: The Conversation

Culled from Mail Online

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