A recent video from the New York Times, dicusses the use of a particular exercise to rectify the common complaint of tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis.
The ‘itis’ in epicondylitis suggests the condition has an inflammatory basis which new research has proven to be untrue. Hence why anti-inflammatories have little effect in alleviating the problem. Instead what researchers have found is more of a degenerative condition, with the tendons of the wrist extensors seeming to be in some state of decay.
To my knowledge the tendons of healthy muscles don’t just start to decay. It is the muscle contracting appropriately that introduces force into the tendon and, in effect, keeps it alive. What is interesting is that by definition the sufferers are often tennis players.
So why do people who play sport have muscles that aren’t contracting?
Good question. Every muscle in the body has a limit to the amount of force it can tolerate. When that limit is breached the body inhibits the muscle to prevent further damage occurring.
If you continually breach that limit, the muscle is not given time to adapt and the result is a muscle that’s unable to contract appropriately. That’s when the degeneration begins.
Of course this effect is not limited to the wrist extensors. This can be seen throughout the body as a fail safe mechanism that, if left unresolved, can lead to you becoming weaker rather than stronger.
It is why ‘get fit quick’ programmes do not work in the long term. Your body can only adapt at a particular speed and that is not 6 weeks or your money back. Take those ubiquitous promotional pictures again at 12 months and the results are not so pretty.
Exercise must be appropriately paced for long term success.
In order to avoid stressing your body beyond the point from which it can recover, the effects of your exercise programme must be regularly assessed. That doesn’t mean assessing whether you are bench pressing more or running 10 km faster, it means assessing the effect of your training on your muscular system as a whole.
Are more muscles contracting optimally or are you causing inhibition and weakness that will eventually lead to injury?
Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT) is the only treatment process that is able to give you that information. Using it enables me to keep my clients pain free and looking good at 6 weeks, 12 months and beyond.