Whenever engaging in physical activity, the first question is, "what is my goal?"
When first deciding to exercise, everyone needs to identify two big features. What is your goal, and how do you plan to get there? A common goal in a rehabilitation setting is to focus on individual muscles, and isolating them when exercising. This is often done for individual's with histories of stroke, or motor vehicle accidents. Whatever trauma they have experienced will have caused weakness or deficit in a specific muscle or body part, and the goal is to strengthen it, bringing it back to normal.
When this big issue occurs, the goal is obvious. We want to strengthen that specific muscle, and the movement associated with it. What's the plan, though? How do you do that? While each case and practitioner is different, our practice has frequently found success using what's called a "Redcord". This apparatus allows the patient to be placed into almost any position, such that only very specific movements are isolated and performed. The goal isn't to work out just the upper or lower body, but to focus on a small region responsible for a specific action, and by using the Redcord, patients are able to be placed into the appropriate position, so they only perform the movement necessary.
Why do you need to be specific in the movement you perform? Often times, when a body part moves, like the elbow during a bicep curl, there's more than one muscle performing that motion. Even though multiple muscles are responsible for the movement, usually one muscle is doing the majority of the work. If you were to make a small change, how much work each muscle does would change. With bicep curls, depending on whether the palm is facing up, down, or inwards, will determine which muscle is doing most of the work.
But why can't you just pick these positions and do them without a Redcord? Well you can. Isolation exercises can 100% be done with only a dumbbell and a mirror for form. However, Redcord helps ensure that the quality of a movement and exercise is consistent, and prevents compensatory movements. Both of these are big issues, even with normal exercises. Making sure the quality of a bicep curl stays the same from beginning to end is difficult. You want to be performing repetitive movements which are being done well consistently. When you begin to tire, though, the body begins compensating by using other muscle to help with the movement. Why is that an issue? When this happens, you're no longer training the specific muscle which was being focused on and working on muscles that are compensating for the weak one, and are already strong enough.
Using a Redcord, you can be set up into a position where compensatory movements is not possible. The Redcord helps make sure you don't use the muscles you shouldn't be using. You will likely begin to fatigue and get tired, but it'll be with the muscle that's being targeted. Likewise, if an individual with a history of stroke is training to strengthen a specific muscle, they may be weak to the point of not being able to move at all. In this scenario, setting up a specific position, one where that muscle we're targeting is doing most of the work, is crucial in order to strengthen it.
Once you have a clear-cut goal, you need a plan on how to accomplish it. There are likely a lot of ways to get there, but the tools you use will often dictate how quickly, and efficiently you achieve these goals. When it comes to strengthening specific muscles and movements, using a Redcord for isolated exercises is truly a fantastic tool to achieve your goals faster, and accurately. If you have a history of stroke and muscle weakness, and want to improve a movement, or quality of life, book an appointment with us, and we'll help you out. The road to recovery can be difficult, but we have the tools and experience to help make that process way easier.