Weekly musings, 10/14/17- minimum dosage
A research literature review I read* showed that eight weeks of an eccentric training program was enough to cause a change in hamstring fascicle length. Muscle fascicles are bundles of muscle fibers, encased in a sheath called a perimysium. Fascicles get longer when they are exposed to resistance.
Here is what is incredible about this (to me). Eight weeks isn’t very long. In fact, most people can stick with something for two months. It’s just short enough to not feel like it’s drudgery. The subjects performed three sets of eight repetitions, three times a week over the course of the eight weeks.
Let’s assume this took 8 minutes (subjects were performing 5 second contractions each repetition, so I am padding in extra time for rest and checking texts). 24 minutes of work each week was enough to cause tissue to change.
A couple of months ago, a gentleman was referred to me for lingering (self-diagnosed) piriformis syndrome. I chatted with him about what seemed to make his pain worse (he didn’t know), and the activities he enjoyed (walking, swimming, gardening). He had an interesting walking gait, and was hypermobile in his knee joints, something I don’t normally see in men that are 6’3”. I sent him home with a breathing exercise, a dynamic split leg calf stretch, and a wall sit hold. I told him to keep doing the things he enjoyed. He called me two days ago to thank me because his pain is gone. I don’t know if his pain would have disappeared without seeing me or not. It’s certainly possible, because pain is funny like that. But I do know the things I gave him were things that in my eyes, in that moment in time, it looked like he needed.
It doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective. As noted above, it doesn’t even have to take that much time to be effective. What matters is consistency. People don’t need six exercises to do every day at home. They need two to do most days, and then when they get good at those, give them a different two. Keep it simple, keep it enjoyable, and appreciate the value of a minimum effective dose.
*Abstract here: http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/46/12/838