Isokinetic exercises are not like the regular exercises you know, they are done with specialized machines. They are strength exercises whereby the speed of the movement used is constant, it does not change however the resistance is different. This means the more you put in force, the more resistance increases.
One of the most common use of these exercises is for a person to regain strength and mobility after an injury or illness. This is the reason a physical therapist or trained person helps to develop the plan. In this article, we will explain isokinetic exercises in details, their benefits, reasons they are not done at home and the difference between isokinetic exercises and isotonic isometric.
WHAT ARE ISOKINETIC EXERCISES?
These exercises are known and classified under resistance and strength training. They are done to make the muscles go at full speed while the speed is constantly maintained. It requires the use of specialized machines as they will help to separate the area that needs to be strengthen. These machines also help to control movements.
A physical therapist or doctor is mostly recommended for the exercise as they need to set the machines to the correct movement, speed, resistance and range of motion. The correct speed helps the muscles to contract and relax at the same rate, this leads to isokinetic contractions. The speed and range of motion can be adjusted to suit the need of the patient.
EXAMPLES OF ISOKINETIC EXERCISES
1. Stationary Bike
The user rides on a constant leg movement. At some point, the bike will change the resistance but the speed of the limb motion and revolutions per minute remains the same.
This is also an isokinetic exercise that allows the motion to remain constant while the resistance is constant inside the water. But, this exercise needs efforts so that the speed and movement of the arm is constant.
This can be classified as an isokinetic or isometric exercise depending on how you do it. If the speed can be kept at constant throughout the exercise and the resistance inclined, then it can pass as an isokinetic exercise.
ISOKINETIC EXERCISES FOR UPPER BODY
Some are done to build strength in the upper body.
Some of these exercises include:
- Lats Pull
- Tricep workout
- Soft tissue stretch (Over-head stretch)
- Chest workout
BENEFITS OF ISOKINETIC EXERCISES
Isokinetic exercises are the best and safest way of strengthening muscles of people who are recovering from an illness or injury.
Some of the benefits are:
1. They are the best way to recover muscles when compared to other exercises. A study published by the National Library of Medicine in 2018 showed that isokinetic exercises are better at improving performance than isometric and isotonic exercises.
2. Isokinetic exercises can be modified to suit the abilities and appeal of patients as there are so many exercises under these strengthening training. A study published by the National Institute of Health in 2020 suggested that isokinetic exercises are more effective than most standard rehabilitation for athletes with lower back pain.
The Sport Sciences for Health conducted a study in 2008 that showed modified isokinetic exercises can effectively restore the imbalances in knee muscle strength in professional soccer players. Another study in 1999 by the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation found out that isokinetic exercises can be effective in treating knee osteoarthritis in older adults.
3. The National Library of Medicine in 2018 published a research that showed a 12-week isokinetic exercises can better increase the strength of muscles and create balance in children with Down’s syndrome as compared to traditional physical therapy.
4. The Annals of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine in 2016 carried out a study and found out the strengthening of the muscles from isokinetic exercises can increase the effects of aerobic exercises in people with obesity. These isokinetic exercises can reduce body fat and mass and also improve muscle strength.
Isokinetic exercises are used as recovery physical therapy for illness and injuries like:
- Injury affecting the muscles
WHY ISOKINETIC EXERCISES CANNOT GENERALLY BE PERFORMED BY INDIVIDUALS AT HOME
It is not advised that isokinetic exercises be done by individual at home, this is because specialized and specific machines are needed and professional assistance is required so as to stay at constant speed. It is usually not easy for an individual to trace his/her performances and improvements as well. Isokinetic exercises cannot be performed by an individual at home because there must be an equal and consistent opposing force applied all through the training session.
It my be difficult for an individual to keep track of these progress. Some of the machines are more complex, and there is a need for a skilled user or trainer to teach you how to use them. This person will also know how to do tests and measurements of your speed and resistance.
ISOKINETIC EXERCISES AT HOME
Some isokinetic exercises to perform at home include:
1. Isokinetic Squats
These are not the same as the regular squats as there is no need for a barbell, rack or a smith machine although these tools can be used. Isokinetic exercises focus more on the speed used rather than the weight so you must go down very low and come up at the same time. Time your reps and perform at least 10 squats for each rep.
2. Stationary Bike
This is commonly seen in home gyms and it is easily accessible. You just have to set the speed to be constant all through the session, this will help your resistance to be constant.
This is the most common equipment for isokinetic exercises. Your motion remains constant while the resistance is same as well. However, you should stick to the breaststroke as this is the best technique for isokinetic exercise. This stroke will help your head to see your reps.
ISOKINETIC EXERCISES REQUIRE THE USE OF EXPENSIVE MACHINES
Isokinetic exercises require specialized machines to contract the muscles at the same speed. However, these machines are very expensive and not usually seen in gyms. You can only see them in rehabilitation centers. These machines are needed for isokinetic exercises because these machines creates resistance in many levels making your movements to be at the same speed irrespective of the force applied.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ISOMETRIC, ISOTONIC AND ISOKINETIC EXERCISES
Most people confuse isokinetic with isometric and isotonic exercises but these exercises are very different from each other. From their root meaning, we will see the difference between all. Isokinetic means using same speed throughout the training, isometric means maintaining the same length for muscles while isotonic means using the same tension all through.
1. Isometric Exercises
These type of training do not increase or decrease the length of the muscles. They are also known as static exercises. Examples of these exercises include staying at a plank position, doing abdominal vacuums and bridges.
Isometric exercises are done to maintain strength and build strength when done in lesser degree. One of the downsides of this type of exercise is that strength is built in only one position. Also, your speed is not improved but your overall stability can be enhanced in a position.
2. Isotonic Exercises
Isotonic exercises keeps the muscles at the same amount of tension all through the session. They are used to build strength during therapy and this can help the patient to engage in meaningful activities. These exercise are recommended for patients who lost strength due to injury or disease such as from even a brief stay in the hospital.
A 2008 research shows that bed rest can lead to decrease in muscles in about 12% a rate, or an average of 2% per day. Examples of isotonic exercises include bicep curl, push-ups, pull-ups, and squats. These exercises make the weight of the body to remain the same while the joint moves from the beginning of the training till the end.
3. Isokinetic Exercises
These exercises deals with motion however, the speed remains the same. Using a stationary bike as an example, your legs moves in the same motion as the pedal circumference but the speed of your legs and the revolution in a minute remains the same. The resistance also varies and can be adjusted.
Isokinetic exercises are used in therapy for recovery, to develop the muscles, improve flexibility, prevent injury. Isokinetic exercises are the most safest as the machines used do not have risks of injury. They can also help patients to regain confidence and feel empowered in their recovery.
TIPS FOR ISOKINETIC EXERCISES
There are some things to consider when going for isokinetic exercises. It is expected that you start your isokinetic exercises with the guidance of a physical therapist. If you want to start your isokinetic exercises at home, there are some tips to conside.
- Check with a doctor before starting the exercise on your own. Your doctor will tell you if you are fit enough to start a new program.
- Start slowly till you build the intensity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you set a goal of 30 minutes of exercise on 5 days of the week. You can increase the intensity of this routine gradually.
- Always take enough water before, during, and after a workout to replace any fluid lost during exercise. This so to restore the fluids lost during the exercise, you should not feel thirsty at all.
- Stop the exercise if you notice any trouble. You may feel tired, but you should stop and rest for some time.
- If there is any confusion while using the machine, you should seek help from a physical therapist or trainer.
Isokinetic exercises are not like the regular exercises we know, they are done as recovery and rehabilitation method using specialized machines. It is mostly done with the guidance of a physical therapist. Isokinetic exercises are very safe as there are little risks.