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Want to Avoid Injuries? Try Isometric Training

Avoid Injury with Isometric Training

An isometric movement is a strength-training technique that uses static movement, or a hold, to target muscle groups for improvement. Professional athletes often use this technique to build new muscles, boost body conditioning and prevent common injuries. While your fitness goals might be different from a pro athlete, you should know that recent studies support adding isometric training to your workout, which can help protect muscles, bones, and joints under impact.

Isometric Training Benefits

Isometrics are unique and powerful contraction exercises. Unlike other strength-training activities that rely on range of motion (ROM) against resistance to tone muscles, isometric exercises are low impact and precise. Their stabilizing movements help prevent injuries while increasing body strength and tone.

Studies reveal important features of isometrics:

  • Increases hamstring musculotendinous stiffness (MTS), which is a muscle’s tendency to stay tight like a rubber band to protect load-bearing joints
  • Builds bone density
  • Builds muscle strength
  • Facilitates muscle isolation. Using targeted isometrics, performance problems at a joint angle can be resolved quickly.
  • Low impact exercise enables steady engagement of muscles performed anywhere – for example, a seated exercise routine for quick workouts
  • Promotes large-scale muscle activation. Body flexing exercises can readily activate all available muscle units.

Research Supports Adding Isometrics as Part of your Workout Plan

Recent studies show that isometric exercises are the best strategy for injury-free, effective workouts. In two separate studies, researchers found that isometric training is instrumental in preventing knee injuries via hamstring MTS and improving mineral bone density.

Improved Hamstring MTS and Knee Injury Prevention

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the most common sites for sports injury. Knee injuries are influenced by jarring exercises that affect the loading bearing capacity of the ACL. As a result, these injuries often loosen knee ligaments or promote tears.

Exercises linked to knee injuries:

  • Landing incorrectly from a jump
  • Changing directions rapidly
  • Stopping suddenly
  • Slowing down while running
  • Direct contact sport

Research shows that by tightening the hamstrings through targeted isometric exercises, hamstring MTS acts like a shield, thus improving knee-joint biomechanics for favorable landing capabilities. As a result, there is a reduced risk for ACL injury.

In the same study, researchers also measured the effectiveness of isometric vs. isotonic exercises (static workout vs. ROM) in providing quality changes in hamstring MTS. After six weeks of training both isometric and isotonic participants, researchers discovered that isometric training showed a significant increase in hamstring stiffness over isotonic workouts. This finding follows previous literature that reported greater increases in quadriceps tendon stiffness using isometrics. Therefore, isometric training ranked superior to plyometric training in enhancing tendon rigidity.

Thus, these important findings suggest that isometric training is the most effective mechanism for preventing common injuries in both recreational and professional sports.

Prevention of Thinning Bones

Further studies investigated the effect of isometric training in preventing bone density reduction in an injured limb. Sixty individuals participated in the study, and each participant had injuries to the femur requiring at least one month of post-injury immobilization. During the immobilizing phase, the muscles, bones and tendons often grow weak and are susceptible to tissue atrophy.

Key findings reveal that isometric training not only prevents the reduction of bone mineral density in the femur but also significantly increases the density of injured bones. In other words, these exciting results suggest that isometric exercises are effective in preventing tissue atrophy by increasing density in the injured limb and bone. Like muscles, bones are living tissues that can be strengthened through targeted training. Notably, young people who exercise regularly develop greater peak bone mass than those who do not.

A primary characteristic of isometric exercises is its flexibility. Performed anywhere, anytime and discretely, it is therefore a great addition for individuals on the go. Furthermore, adding Activ5 to your routine, the cutting-edge device and its companion app can coach you through your workout and help manage your fitness goals.

Resources:

Blackburn, J.T. et al., 2013. The Effects of Isometric and Isotonic Training on Hamstring Stiffness and Anterior Cruciate Ligament Loading Mechanisms. Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology, 24 (2014) 98-103. Web. Scripted, Inc. resources: http://www.jelectromyographykinesiology.com/article/S1050-6411(13)00242-3/abstract

Yousefi, R. et al., 2011. The Effect of Isometric Training on Prevention of Bone Density Reduction. Australian Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences, 5(12): 981-985, 2011. Web. Scripted, Inc. resources.

Read, A., n.d. Isometric Training: What it is and How to Do it Correctly. Web: https://breakingmuscle.com/learn/isometric-training-what-it-is-and-how-to-do-it-correctly

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