Strength & weakness


Electrical stimulation of the abdominal muscles for the critically ill

Intensive care beds, which cater for critically ill patients, are predicted to represent >30% of all future hospital beds. Around a third of critically ill patients require mechanical ventilation to help them breathe. While a lifesaving intervention, mechanical ventilation increases breathing and heart related complications, decreases quality of life, and […]


The speed of strength: how often should you train one arm to increase strength in both arms?

Single limb resistance training improves strength not only in the trained limb, but also in similar muscles of the untrained limb. The increase in strength in the untrained limb, commonly known as ‘cross-education’, is due to a strengthening of connections within the brain and spinal cord (Farthing and Zehr, 2014). […]


Small amounts of involuntary muscle activity limit passive joint range of motion

The loss of passive joint range of motion (i.e. contracture) is common in stroke and other neurological conditions. More than half of people with stroke or spinal cord injury will develop at least one contracture (Diong et al., 2012; Kwah et al., 2012). Contracture impairs physical function and can cause […]


The debate on muscle hypertrophy

For decades, there has been a consensus amongst scientists and practitioners that one of the ways people become stronger after resistance training is that their muscles become bigger. This increase in muscle size is termed muscle hypertrophy. Over the past 3 years, however, Jeremy Loenneke’s research group at the University […]


Long-term self-stretching increases muscle length in chronic hemiparesis 2

In stroke-induced hemiparesis, muscles such as the plantar flexors undergo dramatic alterations that involve both physical shortening (decrease in fascicle length) and viscoelastic loss of extensibility (Kwah et al., 2012). This muscle disorder has been termed spastic myopathy (Gracies, 2015) and is commonly treated with stretching techniques. However, the effectiveness […]


Aerobic exercise enhances fluid intelligence in stroke patients

Fluid intelligence, sometimes called abstract reasoning, is the ability to think logically and solve problems; a highly valued human capacity. Over 70% of patients admitted to hospital with stroke have cognitive impairment, but cognition is rarely a target of rehabilitation treatments. Moderate-vigorous intensity aerobic exercise is a potent brain stimulus […]


A tailored multidisciplinary intervention reduces the burden of dizziness in middle-aged and older people

Dizziness is a debilitating symptom that affects 10-30% of middle-aged and older people (Aggarwal et al, 2000; Colledge et al, 1994). People with dizziness often report poor health outcomes including reduced quality of life, depression, fear of falling and falls (Aggarwal et al, 2000; Colledge et al, 1994; Tinetti et […]


The learning effect with 1RM strength tests

The one repetition maximum (1RM) is a test of muscle strength. It is defined as the maximal amount of weight an individual can lift once, but not twice, when using the correct technique. Common 1RM tests include the bench press, chest press machine, biceps curl, lat pulldown, back squat, leg […]


Antidepressants help us understand why we get fatigued during exercise

In general, the term ‘fatigue’ is used to describe any exercise-induced decline in the ability of a muscle to generate force. To identify the causes of fatigue, it is common to examine two divisions of the body that might be affected during exercise. The central component of fatigue includes the […]


Interventions that involve repetitive practice improve strength and function after stroke

The loss of strength after stroke is a common and important impairment. Some people who have had a severe stroke can lose as much as 50–70% strength in the affected arm and leg (Andrews & Bohannon 2003; Horstman et al. 2008). This loss of strength can result in profound disability […]