Many health professionals within the areas of physical therapy and sports medicine feel that with the growth of popular exercise notions, strength training has become an important adjunct to rehabilitation. However, strength training, especially a program that's properly instructed and applied in cooperation with manually resisted movements (if needed), isn't an adjunct to therapy. Strength training is the therapy.
There's an endless array of passive modalities essential to the rehabilitation process. Some of these modalities include hot/cold treatments, ultra sound, massage, electrical stimulation, relaxation methods, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, and stretching. However, these modalities are the adjuncts since they can't directly stimulate tissue remodeling (strength, functional enhancement) and can't meaningfully improve or cure chronic conditions. They're performed to reduce pain and swelling so the real physical therapy-the strength training-can occur.
For optimal stimulation of the muscular structures and the subsystems that serve it, muscles and joints should be worked throughout a full, pain-free range of motion. When strength training is prescribed as part of a physical rehabilitation program, many well-meaning health professionals recommend using light weights to prevent any further damage to the injured area. While it's natural to be aware of the amount of weight used for a strength training exercise, the amount of weight doesn't directly cause or make the injured area worse. Excessive force-not weight-is the root cause of the majority of injuries to the body.
The amount of force the muscles and connective tissues are exposed to can be dramatically reduced by performing strength training movements as slow and strict as possible. If one desires to remain injury free, quick, sudden movements against resistance should be avoided like the plague.
According to Arthur Jones, the founder and former CEO of Nautilus Sports/Medical Industries and MedX Corporation, "When it comes to rehabilitation, there is only one intelligent choice: strength training… Other protocols may help to temporarily reduce or remove pain, but only strength training is truly productive and capable of producing the tissue changes that are required for true rehabilitation (a return to normal functional ability). If muscular strength is not addressed with most physical debilities, rehabilitation can be superficial, a waste of the patient's precious window of recovery time and a misuse of an insurance company's reimbursement. Sports medicine, for the most part, can be summed up in one word: exercise. Exercise can be summed up in two words: muscular strengthening. Muscular strengthening, when performed properly, can be summed up in one phrase: Train safely with slow, controlled, and precise movements." IBI