Part 2: Muscle Power & Power Training

Part 2: What is Muscle Power?

In Part 1 of this series, we left off on how we believe power training to be a very important part of our patient rehab and discharge process. Here at Perfect Stride PT, we pride ourselves in staying on the cutting edge of research, and we’ve found incorporating power training into rehab results in more patients returning to their life and work more rapidly - without ending up back in our offices several weeks or months later.

Part 2 of our Power Training Series is about muscle power - what it is, and why rehab specialists tend to stay away from it.

Muscle Power Defined

“Muscle power” can be explained in a lot of ways, but perhaps the most simple would be the ability to generate force over time. That is, to do something as fast (and as safely) as possible.

When we think of muscle power, we usually think of a pitcher throwing a fastball, or a sprinter exploding off the blocks, but what about someone getting out of a chair? Bending forward to catch a falling object? Or lifting something off the floor? The fact is "power" is a part of our every day life in a big way.

"Power" is not always what we think it is...

"Power" is not always what we think it is...

These are things our patients do every day, and according to a new study from PTJ, over 75% of Americans do not have a proper power training regimen in their fitness programming. This same study demonstrates that, if trained properly, muscle fiber types can actually reverse to mimic “younger” muscle tissue. This is of interest to all our patients, and especially to our older clients who may have been told for years that certain exercises are "bad" for them.

Why Power Gets Ignored

Prior to joining PSPT, I worked in many PT offices. I always found it interesting listening to and taking part in the debate of exercise progression and prescription. Despite everyone's "creativity" with exercises I always wondered why this was "functional" (i.e. how would it make the patient better at their primary complaint or limitation). Furthermore I always wondered why each "plan" almost always ended with “3 sets of 10” being prescribed across the board. What about the concept of as many as possible with good form? Or practicing the activity repeatedly with homework to eliminate improper movement and educate "new" behavior?  

Unfortunately, in my experience, these things were less debated. Particularly prescribing exercises that treat movements (and away from the “painful” site), and when, if ever, to add power training.

PTs in the audience may be asking themselves - why would position matter? Why would we ever give power training to patients? That’s not rehab, and we’re not personal trainers. Perhaps more importantly, insurance will never cover it!

That’s the issue right there. In our opinion, reloading and re-patterning a patient’s everyday movements is the toughest and least-performed aspect of rehab. Perhaps it’s because of insurance issues, or perhaps it’s because our patients are reporting that they’re feeling “better" and as a result our "job" is done. Perhaps it’s something else entirely. Regardless, we need to take our clients through the entire continuum of care, and power training is an important part of that continuum.

Part 3 of our series will discuss how we can go about programming power training into our rehab strategies. Until then, Happy Rehabbing!

References

  1. News Now Staff. 75% of US Adults 45 and Older Not Meeting Strength Training Recommendations. 75% of US Adults 45 and Older Not Meeting Strength Training Recommendations. PT in Motion, 22 Sep 2014. Web. Accessed 28 Oct 2014.