When you want to maintain muscle, one immediately thinks of having to go to the gym to keep fit. What if you could just imagine yourself doing those exercises, strain involved, and find out that you are actually succeeding? New research is revealing that our brain is much more incredible than we ever thought before. So how does that come into play with therapy and strength building? Scientists are starting to correlate mental exercises with the retention of muscle. If you can imagine it, you can do it!
While some say that this is pretty ridiculous, it is really pretty neat. To understand how the brain and nervous system work, more research is needed. Now, a study at Ohio University, which involved patients whose wrist was effectively immobilized for four weeks, showed quite interesting results.
With those not wearing casts being the study group, the group of volunteers were split into two groups: one doing mental exercises, and those who were not. As a result, the group that went through the guided mental workout retained almost half of their original strength upon removal of the cast! The group that wore the cast had to go through the normal process of regaining strength.
It is amazing how our brain is able to control tendons and ligaments at the mere thought of straining. Remember, the participants were not able to move their wrist or hand in any way, it was strictly mentally contrasting their hand.
Real Life Applications
While no one wants to think about work when they are sick, patients who must wear a cast for an extended period of time can greatly benefit. Through the various stages of rehabilitation, breaking a bone or tearing a ligament is scary and the healing process can be quite time-consuming. However, there are critical locations where healing can be achieved faster.
Hospitals are places of advancing technology; every day there are improvements that can help someone heal more rapidly. With science helping to speed things along, patients in a small cast, all the way to a body cast, would be able to benefit from these mental exercises. Not only would it keep the moral of the patient up, but it would also help to build a good foundation for when they leave.
Therapy happens a few times per week and is supposed to be done carefully at home as well. However, therapy is an opportunity to push the boundaries of the body and help it get over the humps that a lack of exercise can cause. With varied mental workouts, one day a patient could reduce their healing time to a matter of weeks instead of months.
When the cast is about to come off, or if you are sick in bed, retaining muscle is vital to keeping about your daily routine. Simple tensing is what is needed – it uses all the muscle fibers a full range of motion would use, without the movement.
One thing to keep in mind is that these mental exercises will not build muscle. These activities are newly studied so their full benefits are yet to be found. However, this is a great starting point, and something to do while you or someone you know is healing. Staying active and living healthy is the best way to maintain your lifestyle and to recover quickly from an accident.
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