Strengthening is an important component of a balanced exercise routine. Research has shown that consistent strength training helps individuals reduce injury risk, enhance daily function, and improve mental health. There are three main types of muscle contractions used to improve strength. They are called concentric, eccentric, and isometric contractions. A combination of these three are common through our daily movements and can be used to optimize exercise programs and accelerate progress towards fitness goals.
Concentric: A concentric muscle contraction is one in which a muscle generates force by shortening its length. An example of this exercise is the phase of a bicep curl when you are bringing the weight closer towards your shoulder. Concentric exercise can be helpful in increasing strength, building mass, and toning tissue.
Eccentric: An eccentric muscle contraction refers to when a muscle is lengthening under tension. These types of contractions are crucial in maximizing strength results. Research has shown that eccentric contractions generate more force and use less energy and oxygen than concentric. Eccentric exercises should be performed at a slower pace with a focus on control. Examples of eccentric exercises include sitting down in a chair, stepping down stairs, or slowly lowering back to the ground from the top range of a push up. When attempting these exercises, try to pace the movement at a count of five or more seconds.
Isometric: During an isometric exercise, the muscle remains at the same length and joints do not move. These exercises can be very helpful for stabilizing muscles around a painful joint without increasing irritation. There is also research demonstrating that isometric exercises help to reduce pain in tendons, which is the connective tissue attaching muscles to bones. Isometric exercises are often held for a longer duration and include planks, wall sits, or glute bridges.
All three types of muscle contractions are beneficial and hold an important place in a balanced exercise routine. If you have further questions on how to optimize your strength training program, please feel free to reach out to the physical therapy team at Warm Springs Holistic Health for more information. The Warm Springs Holistic Health Center provides physical therapy and acupuncture care in Warm Springs with a focus on compassion, integrity, and full-body wellness. You can contact them at 541-777-2663.